PETALING JAYA: An outraged Muslim father has decided to start an online petition to urge the Federal and state governments to stop sanctioning rape by allowing child marriages.
Umran Kadir, who is currently living in the United Kingdom, said that he came up with the petition because as a father of three, with nephews and nieces in Malaysia, he was concerned about the issue of a 41-year-old man being allowed to marry an 11-year-old girl.
The petition “Stop the state-sanctioned rape of children in Malaysia” was uploaded on change.org on July 12 (Malaysian time) and has since garnered more than 2,000 signatures as of 1.3opm Friday (July 13). It is aiming for 2,500 signatures.
Addressed to the “Malaysian Government,” the petition said that the marriage had outraged people of all creeds who possess a moral compass.
“We, being concerned individuals of different religions and ethnicities, insist that you do all in your power to consider on an urgent basis, changes to the laws in Malaysia that currently permit the state-sanctioned rape of children.
“We demand that the Government take the unequivocal position that no child below the age of 18 should be permitted to be married, regardless of their faith or gender.
“To permit otherwise is not to permit ‘child marriage’; instead, it is to permit the state-sanctioned rape of children.
“This has no place in a civilised society and should be criminalised in Malaysia,” the petition reads.
The petition said that there were those who seek to justify the state-sanctioned rape of children by citing religious arguments, but argued that there were no strong religious justifications permitting such a crime when there were schools of thought that either discourage or prohibit the practice.
The petition also said that it recognised that some of the existing laws which allow such a practice may not solely be within the purview of the Federal Government, and that this issue may therefore also need action to be taken by state legislatures.
“Nevertheless, we believe it is crucial that a concerted and non-partisan approach be taken at all levels of government (both federal and state) to resolving the present state of affairs which is totally unacceptable,” it said.
The petition by Umran, who is in his 40s, also calls upon the Federal Government to take urgent steps to outlaw the “abhorrent practice” in the Federal Territories that it administers.
It also wants the Government to table the issue for discussion at the coming Parliamentary sitting so that a clear roadmap can be charted to put a stop to the “heinous and horrifying acts” as soon as possible.
It also urged the Government to work with the respective state governments to ban child marriages.
“You have been given a clear and unequivocal mandate by the people of Malaysia. We now demand that you have the courage to do what is necessary in order to protect some of the most vulnerable and voiceless members of Malaysian society,” it said, ending with #ProtectOurGirls #BanChildMarriage hashtags.