On October 29th, 2008, The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam in Malay) had decided to increase the legal marriage age from 16 to 18 for girls. For the boys, the minimum age is also 18 and has remained unchanged since. Prior to this ammendment, both the civil and the syariah court allowed that girls to marry at 16 and the boys, 18. However, under the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act 1984, it also allows girls younger then the legal age to marry under special conditions (such as unplanned pregancies)
The reason why this ammendment came about was through various studies showing that girls who married at a younger age were more likely to suffer from domastic violence, health risks (sexually-transmitted diseases) and psychological problems later in life. Suhakam also made the decision due to educational reasons, stating that girls were not able to complete their studies and could face unemployment problems later.
I hardly see this ammendment as an improvement. Firstly, can a teen still think and behave rationally as an adult? When we fall in love, we behave as if as though the world revolves around us. Nothing else matters except that if we are not with our beloved, we are ‘dead’. They haven’t really thought through the whole idea of marriage and thus, they fall short of their expectations. The idea of marriage is nothing short of a fantasy everyone wants to live through once in their lifetime. Once they are in it, however, it becomes a different story.
Secondly, one needs to have a COMPLETE education. Although the newly amended law states that this is meant to help them complete their studies, this makes no sense whatsoever. The journey of a university student is one filled with complications. Some wonder if the field they chose is right for them. Others are trying to settle down after coming from the rural areas to the big city for educational purposes. Whatever the reason, studing in college is not a one year process, it takes 3 to 6 years of studying depending on the course of their choice. Throw in marriage into the whole mix and it becomes a difficult pill to swallow. Can a couple survive the hardship of a long-distance relationship or the challenges that are thrown in from every direction? The only way we can curb unemployment is by having a sensible and an actual complete education!
Thirdly, no matter how old the person is when they marry, domestic abuse is not uncommon. Domestic abuse doesn’t just happen to those who marry young. It can happen to anyone. The same goes for those infected with any STD. Even if they want to marry at 18 or older, it doesn’t mean that they will be safe. People are quite capable of having pre-marital sex from as young as 15 these days and may have been infected much earlier without realising it. Having an STD is something many would love to hide or die trying.
These days, when the girl gets pregnant, it’s become a common practice to marry her to her baby daddy, in the hope that the baby will not be born into a marriage out of wedlock. It’s an embarrasing state which people hope will be quickly solved through marriage. The sad fact is that marriage is not the answer. Teens are still far too young to handle full adult responsibilities, let alone marriage. It becomes an uphill struggle for them to keep it alive.
To all girls out there, please think twice before you attempt to walk down the aisle. A marriage is a sacred bond between two individuals who want to be together. It is a serious commitment that they have made to each other, knowing there are some things, that, eventually, they will have to sacrifice to keep them together. Remember: a wedding is for a day, a marriage is for life.