41-year-old Malaysian Muslim Marries 11-year-old Thai Girl

News of a 41-year-old Malaysian Muslim man marrying an 11-year-old Thai girl has caused an uproar in the press and on social media in Malaysia–and now, both countries’ authorities are investigating the case.

The man, Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul Hamid, married the girl in a secret marriage ceremony in southern Thailand presided over by an Islamic official. The girl is his third wife.

In Malaysia, there are two separating law systems–civil law and Islamic Sharia law. In Sharia, Muslim girls under the legal age of 16 can marry with the consent of the parents and a Sharia court. And Muslim men can marry up to four wives.

In Thailand, however, the minimum legal age to marry is 17 with no exceptions for Islamic laws, meaning the marriage unequivocally violated Thai rules.

But Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said there was no official evidence that the marriage took place and that the marriage would be invalid anyway, considering it had not been granted by a Sharia court.

A photo surfaced on social media though, showing Che Abdul Karim holding hands with his underage bride after their ceremony.

According to him, the marriage was legal and approved by the parents. And that he will only formalize the marriage in Malaysia when the girl turns 16, the legal age.

The parents of the girl said that Che Abdul Karim promised to help them financially.

Human rights groups argue that this case and other child marriage cases involving financial incentives are tantamount to human trafficking and could provide cover for pedophiles.

In 2010, there was estimated to be around 15,000 child brides in Malaysia alone.

Read the full story here.

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