Minimum age for marriage should be 16: Fatimah

By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
@sendouringgit
danielleringgit@theborneopost.com

Fatimah (middle) with the members of MWKS during the third and final meeting of MWKS at Pullman Hotel, Kuching

Fatimah (middle) with the members of MWKS during the third and final meeting of MWKS at Pullman Hotel, Kuching

Members of the State Family and Women Council third (MWKS) unanimously agreed on pushing forward a proposal setting the minimum age for marriage at 16 years old.

At the council’s third and final meeting for 2016 on November 10th headed by Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah, she stated that they would be proposing Sarawak Native Customs (Majlis Adat Istiadat-Mais) to set the minimum age for marriage at 16 years old and not younger, regardless of whether it is civil, syariah or traditional ceremonial marriage (perkahwinan adat).

Fatimah explained that those from the age of 16 to 18 years old who go through civil marriage must have have permission from the chief minister through the resident, while those who have ceremonial traditional marriages are urged to register under the Native Marriage Electronic System (NAMES) that can be found at district offices.

Aside from that, Fatimah also noted that in divorces cases among young couples, the quantum for child maintenance should be reevaluated by Mais as the present quantum is very low.

During the meeting, Fatimah also said that despite the decreasing trend of teenage pregnancy in the state, the number is still high.

As of September 2016, there were 1,872 cases of teenage pregnancies recorded in Sarawak while there has been a decline of 25 per cent in Malaysia and 21.3 per cent in Sarawak.

Aside from that, Fatimah also noted that the percentage of unmarried pregnant teenagers is 48.5 per cent, adding that about 42 to 50 per cent pregnant teenagers from the age of 10 to 17 years old are school dropouts or never attended schools.

As of next year, Fatimah also proposed to organise Program Randau Pembangunan: Kesedaran dan Advokasi Pendidikan Seksual (KAPS), which aimed at decreasing the number of teenage pregnancies in Sarawak.

“We hope to organise the programme in 12 series in 2017 throughout Sarawak to decrease the number of teenage pregnancy cases,” said Fatimah.

According to Fatimah, they also planned to include NGOs, school councilors and students so that the programme would be ongoing.

Also present during the meeting were Assistant Minister for Early Childhood Education and Family Development Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali and Department of Family and Women director Noriah Ahmad.

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