Plea to raise age for brides

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 February, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 February, 1997, 12:00am

A Malaysian government minister has proposed that the legal marrying age for women be raised to 18, following reports of a growing number of weddings between older men and girls under 16.

In many cases the brides are the second or third wives of men exercising their right as Muslims to be polygamous. Under Islamic law, a woman must be 16 before she can marry. But state chief ministers have the power to grant permission for men to take younger brides who have reached puberty. Marriages of girls of 14 are not rare.

Zaleha Ismail, Minister for National Unity and Social Development, proposing a minimum marrying age of 18, said this would ensure they could do housework and were mature enough to take up the responsibilities of a wife.