Suhakam commissioner: I did not support child marriage

(Updated )

Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) member Nik Salida Suhaila Nik Saleh has denied supporting child marriage and said that her Facebook post on the marriage of the 11-year-old to a 41-year-old Malaysian was misunderstood by the public.

She told Free Malaysia Today that the point of her Facebook post was to highlight that age was not the only determinant for a marriage to be "sunnah" (in accordance to the teachings of the prophet Muhammad) or lawful.

She said that even if the bride was 20 or 30 years old, it would not automatically make the marriage lawful, using the examples of a man's ability to be a breadwinner and ensure that his wife is "given knowledge" as factors of a lawful marriage.

"For a woman, you have to ensure that if something happens to your marriage, you can survive. It does not mean that it is okay to marry at 11," the Suhakam commissioner said.

She pointed out that she had recently presented a paper to the heads of all state religious departments, highlighting the urgent need to increase the legal marrying age from 16 to 18.

She added that she would be meeting with the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) as well.

"I'm clear in my position as a Suhakam commissioner that girls 11, 12, 13, 14, and to me, even 18, are not capable of being a responsible wife."

Nik Salida also denied that she has removed her said Facebook post, though is no longer accessible by the public.

Yesterday, Suhakam chairperson Razali Ismail said in a statement that there was no justification to child marriage and that religious practices must not supersede the fundamental rights of a child.

The Facebook post elicited criticisms from lawyer Siti Kassim, who wrote on Facebook that Nik Salida's position in Suhakam was no longer teneble because of the position she took on the matter.


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