Al Arabiya News Channel - AFP March 15, 2010
Malaysian young girls separated from husbands
Girls aged 10 & 11 married off to middle-age men by fathers
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP)
Two Malaysian girls aged 10 and 11 who were wed to middle-aged men have been separated from their husbands as their cases are investigated, religious officials said Monday.
The girls were married off last month by their fathers, who said they were following religious edicts, said deputy head of northern Kelantan state's religious department Mohamad Abdul Aziz Mohammad Noor.
He said Samsudin Ajaib, who is also being investigated on suspicion of leading a religious cult, married 11-year-old Siti Nur Zubaidah and also gave away his 10-year-old daughter to a family friend.
"Both girls have now been separated from their husbands," Mohamad Abdul Aziz told AFP.
He said that a religious Sharia court had separated Samsudin's daughter from her husband while Siti's father had applied to the court to annul her marriage.
He said state religious authorities were also investigating Samsudin for his links to an alleged Islamic sect. Unauthorized Islamic sects are frequently the target of crackdowns by Malaysian authorities.
Islamic law (Sharia) runs in parallel with civil law in predominantly Muslim Malaysia and Kelantan state allows under-age marriages if religious officials give permission.
Siti's mother told the Star daily that shortly after the marriage, her daughter was found outside a mosque in the nation's capital and was now being treated in hospital.
"He asked for our daughter to be married to him as she would be put under his care while attending religious school," Siti Sarnan Mat Ail told the paper.
She would not comment on whether the marriage was consummated, but said her daughter was in a state of shock and traumatised by the events.
Women, family and community development minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil urged action against Samsudin and the religious sect, saying it promised "heavenly rewards" for child marriages, the New Straits Times reported.
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