BUTTERWORTH: The 11-year-old Rohingya girl, who was to marry a 21-year-old man, will wait until she is 18 before tying the knot.
The girl said she had no intention to continue her schooling and that she wanted to marry a Rohingya man named Mahbub, who works in Ipoh.
She said she had known Mahbub for some time and they had made plans to wed with the blessings of her father Mohammed Samir Abdul Razak, 38.
Samir said his family of one wife and two children were facing financial constraints as he earned a meagre amount as a construction worker.
“I was born in Penang and I have known Mahbub since I was (younger). He has often visited my family,” the girl was quoted as saying.
Mahbub has agreed to put off the wedding. “No point marrying her now if there is going to be complications with the authorities,” he said.
It was learnt that Samir had spent some RM5,000 to host a feast and an engagement ceremony before the wedding, which was supposed to take place on Thursday.
Social activist K. Sudhagaran Stanley, who is one of the founders of a private school for Rohingya refugees, had lodged a police report about the planned wedding.
Together with two policemen, the three of them went to the event in Taman Perai to dissuade Samir from proceeding with the ceremony.
Stanley promised to help the family financially. He also wanted the girl to continue her schooling.
On Friday, the authorities including religious counsellors and police officers visited the family to explain that child marriages were not allowed in Malaysia.
In another development, Stanley issued a statement condemning news reports that identified the girl by name.
“This is one of the most disgusting articles that I have come across. It is a shame that the newspaper and its editors decided to publish a piece that could be interpreted as supporting child marriages.
“What was the intention of writing it? Does the child even know what she is talking about? What would these editors do if the 11-year-old child was their own? Would they support the marriage and write such an article?
“How can an 11-year-old child understand the concept of marriage? She is not mature to understand what she is talking about. The newspaper is only making the matter worse by publishing her story.”
He said that the case was just the “tip of the iceberg” as he was informed that many other child bride marriages had gone on undetected.