08 December, 2010
Malaysia's law minister on Wednesday shot down calls to ban underage marriage, despite an uproar over the recent wedding of a 14-year-old Muslim school girl.
Siti Maryam Mahmod wed 23-year-old teacher Abdul Manan Othman last weekend in a mass wedding at a major mosque, after being given permission in an Islamic syariah court.
Malaysian Muslims below the age of 16 are allowed to marry as long as they obtain the permission of the religious courts. Sharia law runs in parallel with civil law in the multi-ethnic country.
Nazri Abdul Aziz, a minister in the premier's department in charge of legal affairs, said the government has no plan to review laws allowing for underage marriages because the practice is permitted under Islam.
"If the religion allows it, then we can't legislate against it," he told a press conference.
"Islam allows it as long as the girl is considered to have reached her pubescent stage, once she has her menstruation," he added.....more here.