MPWS wants zero child marriages

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Women’s Advisory Council (MPWS) says no to girls becoming brides with its child marriage interactive module (MIPK).

MPWS chairman Datuk Dr Tarsiah T Z Taman said the module is focused on raising awareness to overcome child marriages and is a step towards the council’s ultimate objective of an amendment to the Malaysian Act on child marriages.

“We want zero child marriages, even though they (children) want to get married because right now according to Syariah Law children can get married as long as they have reached puberty,” she said at a press conference on the MPWS 2018 efforts here.

She added besides issues such as accidental child pregnancy, children are being married off by parents for economical reasons in Sabah, among other reasons.

“Ultimately, we want to amend the Act on child marriage in Malaysia. If possible make it compulsory for marriage to involve only 18 years and above.

“We cannot straightaway push for the amendment. We must spread it first, advocate first the ways we want to overcome it. We cannot straight away tell parents to not let their children get married,” she explained.

Dr Tarsiah said the MIPK, one of the council’s three iconic project this year, is expected to be finalized by February end and launched by March 5, pending the approval of Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman.

The module will be a guidance for trainers such as counselors, guidance teachers and stakeholders on the conduct of activities related to child marriage.

It will be used to raise awareness and increase the knowledge on child marriage among children and also parents, especially in Sabah.

“Parents play an important role in this issue. We know the child cannot yet make such a decision on their own but there are some cases that parents force their children to marry,” said MPWS deputy chairman Datin Dr Lungkiam Dambul Dumaring.

“We also know that when a child gets married, she will also give birth to a baby. Can you imagine children having a child? According to the rights of children convention, they should be given the freedom to be a child until 18 years of age.

“We are advocating that children must be allowed to be children and for no child marriages,” stressed Dr Lungkiam.

MPIK also aims to provide the guidance and skills in understanding the psychology, laws, family life, health, guidance and counselling behind child marriage.

Talks, discussions and exercise in groups (LDK), questionnaire administration, demonstration, brainstorming, acting, play and storytelling, and experiential learning will be the methodologies used in the interactive module.

The four targeted groups in the module implementation are children below 18 years old, school counselors and guidance teachers, parents and leaders of the people.

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