Activists are calling for the Malaysian government to ban child marriages following the wedding of a 12-year old girl to her 19-year old boyfriend. The couple had parental consent and the permission of the Islamic court.
Nur Fazira Saad had her father's blessing when she married Fahmi Alias. The Malaysian Digest reported Fahmi said: "It is better for us to get married than do things forbidden by our religion and Nur Fazira has agreed to shoulder the responsibility of a wife at this age." Her father, Saad Mustafa, said: "It is better for them to get married rather than doing something improper."
Ratna Osman of the activist group Sisters in Islam slammed the wedding as "shocking" according to Free Malaysia Today. She said: “I don’t understand why this is allowed in a country like Malaysia… We are talking about a developed country. The concern is that this is a child being married off… No parents should be doing this.”
Under Malaysian law Muslims can marry at any age providing there is parental consent and the permission of the Islamic court. This contrasts with the legal age for marriage of non-Muslims set at 18. The Star reported the number of child marriages is increasing in Malaysia. Parental consent is often given to young girls to provide economic relief for the family and because parents believe their daughters are too wild and marriage will curb their behaviour.