Sarawak not against 18 as minimum marriage age

MIRI (BERNAMA) – Sarawak has never rejected the proposal to amend the law to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18, to prevent underage marriages in the country, said state Welfare, Community Well-being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.

She said the Sarawak government fully supported the amendment but the legal system related to marriage in the state had many differences compared to the peninsula with two laws in the state had clearly set the minimum age of marriage. “Sarawak has three marriage-related legal systems, namely civil, Syariah and customary laws, and two of these laws have set the minimum age of marriage at 18,” she told reporters after launching the Pemerkasaan Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) Mulu programme yesterday.

Fatimah said civil law in Sarawak had set the minimum marriage age at 18, but in certain situations such as if underage girls got pregnant out of wedlock, they are required to obtain approval from the state government through their respective Resident Divisions, before being allowed to marry their partners.

Under the Syariah law, she said underage marriages must get approval from the Syariah Court before it could proceed.

For customary marriages, Fatimah said, so far, efforts had been taken to standardise the minimum marriage age involving various ethnic groups in Sarawak and the state Customs Council was in the process of getting the consent of all parties.