Girl Guides welcomes moves towards child marriage ban

Girl Guides welcomes moves towards child marriage ban

MALAYSIA Advocacy

Menerbit semasa 2018-11-17 15:07:05


GGAM says it will continue to apply pressure until ban is complete
 

November 17, 2018: Girl Guides in Malaysia have welcomed a pledge by senior Government ministers in the country to tighten the law around child marriage but say they will continue their campaigning until there is a complete ban.

They were responding to comments by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail on Thursday November 15 who said amendments will be tabled in Parliament next year. There are also moves for Federal Governments to raise the minimum age for marriage to 18.
 
 The commitments came shortly after Girl Guides Association Malaysia and a number of Non-Governmental Organisations visited the Parliament building in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday to hand over a petition calling on child marriage to be banned as part of their #NoBridesUnder18 campaign.

The GGAM campaign, to close legal loopholes allowing thousands of older men are able to marry young girls, has gathered pace since the summer.

The issue drew international attention during the summer when it emerged that a 41-year-old had married a girl aged 11, who became his third wife.

Around 200 girls attending a GGAM Stop The Violence workshop were outraged by the case when it was brought to their attention and the campaign grew from there. Their petition has been signed by more than 159,000 people.

Chief Commissioner of Girl Guides Association Malaysia (GGAM), Dato Jeyadhevi said: “We are delighted the Government is responding to the #NoBridesUnder18 campaign after we brought it to their door this week. We welcome the willingness to tighten the law and look forward to the positive changes. This shows the power young girls can have to change society. We want to see a complete end to this practice which has such a harmful effect on so many girls around the country and we will continue our campaign until there is a commitment to ban it entirely.”

She added: “We believe that through education, we can eradicate child marriage completely. Girl Guides Association Malaysia certainly will make an impact.”

They have met politicians and Ministers at the Malaysian Parliament to hand over a petition calling on the Government to ensure the practice is outlawed to protect future generations of vulnerable girls.

GGAM, which represents 250,000 members nationwide, believes young girls should be concentrating on their education rather than taking on the role of wife or mother until they are more physically and mentally mature. Like many Girl Guiding organisations around the world, they are trying to make a difference to the lives and aspirations of girls, equipping them to be future leaders and giving them confidence.

Their petition calling for action was presented to Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Hannah Yeoh. Around 40 girls and leaders from GGAM were joined by other organisations with many Guides carrying #NoBridesUnder18 placards and banners.

Among those who attended was Leona Azhar, 16, who said: “I believe child marriage must end because every child should be entitled to education and they should have freedom to do things that only a child can do.”

Her views were echoed by 18 year-old Ranger, Kellysya Shah, who said: “Child marriage isn’t a personal matter between those engaging in it – It’s a form of child abuse and it is our duty to protect the children from it.”

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), the London-based international umbrella body for the Guiding movement, has supported the efforts by helping them to shape a strategy, with officers visiting to deliver training on how to campaign effectively.

CEO of WAGGGS, Sarah Nancollas, said: “Many people have a fixed, traditional and rather outdated view of Girl Guiding involves but this amazing campaign shows exactly where the movement is today. It is about driving change and improving the lives of girls around the world. We want to give them the tools and the confidence to be future leaders, and the Girl Guides Malaysia are putting this into practice.”