The marriage between an 11-year-old Thai girl and a 41-year-old Malaysian Muslim is currently being investigated by the Malaysian authorities after it sparked a public outrage with many calling for the ban of child brides.
The union became public after one of the wives of rubber scrap dealer, Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul Hamid, lodged a complaint with the police after her husband secretly married the girl as his third wife in Thailand.
Local media say Che Abdul Karim, who is also an imam in a rural village in northeast Kelantan state, already has two wives and six children aged between 5 and 18.
Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has said the marriage was illegal as it had not been approved by the Shariah court which stipulates that Muslim girls under the minimum legal marriage age of 16 can wed with the consent of the Shariah court and their parents. The law also allows Muslim men in Malaysia to marry four wives.
However, Che Abdul Karim told Bernama news agency that his marriage was lawful and approved by the girl’s parents, who are poor rubber tappers in Malaysia.
He has said he will only formalize the marriage in Malaysia when the girl turns 16 and that she will stay with her parents until then.
The girl was also quoted as saying by local media that she doesn’t understand the fuss over her marriage as she is in love with Che Abdul Karim.