Update: This article has been updated as of 17th July 2018.
On the 29th of June (Sunday) we received news regarding a viral post circulating the web about a 41-year-old man from Kelantan that had married an 11-year-old child.
The post made by activist, Syed Azmi, detailed a plea by the activist to gain contact with a woman. The woman had originally posted a Facebook post that detailed the following:
Slmt pgntin baru suamiku. Suami 41. Maduku 11 tahun
Translated into English.
Congratulations on your new bride my husband. Husband is 41. The Bride 11
It was only on the following day, Sunday (30th June), that more news emerged.
From Syed Azmi’s following Facebook post and subsequent discoveries made in mainstream media portals, here’s what we know so far.
1. The man is a 41-year-old Kelantanese, rubber tapper and has two wives.
The husband in the center of the uproar is Gua Musang, Kelantan resident, Che Abdul Karim. Known as a respected imam from the local mosque, he has 2 wives and 6 children – 2 from the first marriage and 4 from the second.
It was the public Facebook post from the second wife that sparked the uproar in the first place.
According to the account given by Syed Azmi, who had actually contacted and spoke to the woman, the so-called affair between the man and the 11-year-old began in March. It was only after being confronted by his wives with evidence of the ‘marriage’ that he fled to his parent’s house.
The second wife had posted the original post to reach her estranged husband.
In a subsequent post – sighted by the CanLaw Report – this was what the second wife had to say when questioned why she and the first wife had not talked to their husband.
Kmu x knl suami kami.APA yg kami smpaikn atau sesiapa shja nsihat dia xdgr.semua dia buat drasa btul. Ank tri saya mnjdi imam d surau mlm kmarim menangis d awal solat smpai mkmum pon mnagis.
You don’t know our husband. He ignores whatever we tell him or advice given by others. He feels that everything he has done is right. My stepchild – who was imam at the surau yesterday – was crying from morning prayers, even when he was eating!
In a subsequent post, this was what she had to say:
“PERKAHWINAN BUKAN SATU GURAUAN’ (MARRIAGE ISN’T A JOKE)
2. The bride is an 11-year-old child of Thai descent.
The child bride is 11 years old, the youngest in her family. Further investigations also indicated that she and her siblings have NO FORMAL education. This is as they do not go to school.
What is more shocking is that the child is actually best friends with the man’s own daughter! And man’s own children are embarrassed by the situation.
This was confirmed through a post written by the wife and sighted by The CanLaw Report.
Bdk 11tahun kawan baik ank tri saya … (The 11-year-old child is best friends with my stepdaughter)
In a further post, the wife had also shared the WhatsApp messages sent by the child bride to her stepdaughter.
The PG-13 translation of the conversation is as follows:
11y/o Child Bride: “It’s your father that was crazy about wanting me. It wasn’t me that was crazy about him.”
The Stepchild: “Perv. My dad has a lot of assets, so no surprise you want him. That’s why your parents sold you to him.”
Nevertheless, despite the conversation above the 2nd wife did not blame the child for the situation.
3. The child’s parents were ’employees’ of the man’s family …
The parents of the child bride are Thai Nationals that had lived in Gua Musang for over 20 years.
The Father of the child bride is a 49-year-old rubber tapper, who wishes to be known as ‘Mat’. He had previously sold rubber to his now son-in-law, Che Abdul Karim.
Whereas, the mother of the child had worked at the 41-year-old man’s 1st wife restaurant. This was where Che Abdul Karim had initially met his child bride, as she frequently accompanied her mother to work.
4. … and have consented to the marriage.
That’s right. The parents of the child bride have given their consent and blessing to the marriage.
In an interview given to the press, ‘Mat’ who is the child father, said that he was initially taken aback by the marriage proposal that the man had made as his daughter was only 11.
“A week before Hari Raya, my (then) son-in-law came to see me to express his intention to marry my youngest child and asked if I agreed,”
It was only after the man promised them a better life that ‘Mat’ only agreed.
‘Mat’ further went on to defend his decision, stating that his daughter will only live with her ‘husband’ after she turns 16.
Furthermore, my son-in-law is a good man. But we will only allow her to live with her husband after she turns 16.
She will stay with us for the next five years. She is still a CHILD
Both parties have stated that they have only agreed to a ‘nikah gantung‘ .
5. They plan to stay married
Well, they say love knows no bounds, and for the 41-year-old man and his 11-year-old bride, it seems that they plan to stick together.
The 11-year-old child bride had come to her ‘husband’s’defense declaring that she loves him and didn’t mind being his 3rd wife.
His children are my friends. We were staying behind his house for many years.
I have always liked him since I was little. He is a kind man. He is good to my family. So when he proposed marriage, I agreed.
I have loved Abe (Kelantanese for Abang) since I was nine
As for the 41-year-old man, believes that he has done nothing wrong as he has gotten the consent of the girl’s parent. He also claims that he has gotten the consent from his own parents and his first wife.
However, when contacted by The New Paper, the man’s second wife said that while she had heard talks that her husband wishes to marry again, he had promised he would NEVER marry a child.
What angers me is that he married my child’s friend
Safe to say his first two wives aren’t having it.
The decision made by me and the 1st wife is thus. If he continues with his decision to marry the (sic) child bride, we would both divorce him. We can take care of our children, there isn’t a problem.
Better than letting our children souls suffer, seeing their own friend become their mother. We are unanimous and steadfast in our decision.
The man claimed that he had loved has loved his child bride since she was 7!!
In an interview with The Malay Mail on the 16th of July, he was quoted saying;
I knew Ayu since she was small because we were neighbours, and I also taught Al-Quran lessons to her… it was then I told myself ‘one day I will take this girl as my wife’ and I did so four years later
6. Several investigations have been launched…
After the post became viral, investigations by multiple parties have been launched. The list includes:
- Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat Gua Musang
- The Islamic Authorities of Kelantan
- Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development
Our very own DPM, Dr. Wan Azizah has indicated that she has received reports on the matter and has already sent out officers to investigate the matter.
Our officers have gone to the house and met with the girl’s mother. We are waiting for more reports before deciding on the next course of action
And by Syed Azmi’s post, things seem to be moving along.
7. But there will be NO criminal charges.
In a report made by the New Straits Time, the Kelantan police have ruled out the possibility of criminal charges.
State deputy police chief, Datuk Din Ahmad, stated that police investigation has found that there were NO elements of threat, coercion or pedophilia with regards to the girl marrying the man. However, according to him;
The case, however, is handed over to the Kelantan Islamic Affairs Department (JAHEAIK) and it is understood that it is being investigated under the Islamic Family Law Enactment 2002 for marrying a woman below 18
According to ENAKMEN UNDANG-UNDANG KELUARGA ISLAM 2002 (Kelantan) if found guilty, the 41-year-old will only face:
A fine not more than RM1,000; and/or
A jail term no more than 6 MONTHS
As of now, the child will be taken in under the care of the authorities until the marriage is proven.
However, politicians from certain parties are saying that attention by the Government would be better served to focus on issues like LGBT and illegal sex.
— SinarOnline (@SinarOnline) July 4, 2018
For now, many Malaysian are showing their silent protest to the union and also their concerns for the child through #ketikasaya11 and #wheniwas11 .
Nevertheless, like all parties, our main concern will be for the child bride and the children of the family.