Asia-Pacific

Malaysia court rules child marriage 'illegal'

Newly-weds show off their wedding rings in Malaysia
Muslim girls under the age of 16 are allowed to get married with the permission of the Islamic court

The marriage of an 11-year-old Muslim girl to a 41-year-old man has been ruled illegal in Malaysia.

An Islamic court judge found the father of the child had had no intention of marrying her off, and that there were elements of threat and force involved.

Muslim girls in Malaysia under the age of 16 are allowed to get married with the permission of the Islamic court.

The case prompted women's rights groups to call on the government to increase the minimum age of marriage to 18.

The 41-year-old Muslim man took the 11-year-old girl as his fourth wife in February.

The judge ruled that the union was illegal, not because of the age of the child, but because the couple did not follow Islamic law.

One organisation, Sisters in Islam, says child marriages continue in Malaysia because of a belief that Muslim girls can be married off once they reach puberty.

Earlier this month, a 14-year-old girl married a 23-year-old teacher in a public ceremony in Kuala Lumpur.

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