A story from 2020, the phenomenon of the rise of early marriage in Malaysia

Iris, Mary, and Sarah have been friends since they were children and they are generally teenagers, doing homework together, taking selfies, and traveling in their village in Long Menapa, Sarawak, Malaysia.

Their village is a three-hour drive from the nearest elementary school, and a seven-hour drive from the nearest town.

Iris is the eldest among them at 16 years old. While Mary and Sarah are 14 years old. They enjoyed their school days and missed it. But that was two years ago. They quit school when they got married. Mary was 12 years old when she married.

Now they live in their husband’s house.

“We rarely do activities together now, because we live in different houses,” said Mary, quoted from the South China Morning Post, Monday (22/6).

“When we were in the same school, we always did activities together,” he continued.

“We miss the days when we were girls,” he added with a smile, as did Sarah and Iris nearby.

Child marriage (under the age of 18), is not unusual for these girls from the Penan tribe in Belaga. In fact, child marriages occur all over Malaysia, although they are most common in Sarawak.

The 2010 Malaysia Housing and Population Census – the latest available national data – shows more than 150,000 youth between the ages of 15 and 19 are currently married, up from 65,029 in the 2000 census. The next census is expected to be released this year.

In Sarawak, 1,609 marriages of non-Muslim daughters were recorded from 2005 to 2015 by the National Population and Family Development Agency. The country also recorded 1,284 cases of Muslim child marriage from 2011 to 2016, as documented by the Department of Sharia Justice.

These figures show Sarawak has the highest number of child marriages in the neighboring country. Nonetheless, Sarawak Read More...

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