Despite the 41-year-old man, Che Abdul Karim, being given a marriage certificate for making an 11-year-old girl his wife, many are still not giving up on trying to prevent this from happening again in the future.
On Tuesday (July 17), a campaign was launched by a group of non-governmental organisations and it even got the pledges of important people like Hannah Yeoh, Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Permatang Pauh MP, and Charles Santiago, Klang MP.
The hashtag campaign is called #pelajarbukanpengantin (#studentnotspouse), and it seeks to end all child marriages, reported The Star.
Santiago said in a Facebook post yesterday (July 19): “It’s about time that we have open discussions on the issue of child marriage for it deprives a child of her rights and robs her off a childhood as well, not to mention the physical, sexual and emotional trauma.”
“I therefore applaud the initiative by a group of non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations and individuals who have started the ‘Pelajar Bukan Pengantin’ or ‘Student Not Spouse’ campaign.”
“I pledge solidarity with their call to ban child marriages in the country and urge more Malaysians to come forward to support this initiative as well,” he said.
In hopes of pressuring lawmakers to push for a law that bans child marriages in Malaysia, the #pelajarbukanpengantin campaign was initiated by civil society groups and individuals, activists, non-governmental organisation, students and youths.
“This campaign was started by a group of concerned citizens who want to make child marriages a matter of history in 2018. No child marriages, no exceptions. Children belong in schools, not marriages,” said lawyer Robyn Choi.
“So far, what has been missing in the discussion about child marriage has been the voices of children themselves. We hope to get their voices heard through this campaign because this is, after all, about them,” added the former secretary-general of National Human Rights Society, Hakam.
She said that this campaign gives students the platform to voice their views on child marriage, and added that they play an integral part in it.
“This weekend, the campaign will reach some 600 children from the PPR (People’s Housing Project) flats in the Klang Valley where we hope to get their views and input on solutions they see to this problem. We also have university and secondary students doing their own research and hopefully, we will hear their views in days to come. We want them to lead the campaign,” said Choi.
All Malaysians are invited to support this campaign by taking a selfie with the words “Pelajar Bukan Pengantin” or “Student Not Spouse”, and uploading it onto their Instagram accounts using the campaign hashtag. You can be creative in doing it too!
The pelajarbukanpengantin Instagram account will then repost your picture. Currently, more than 100 people have done it.
“If there is any time to push for a change, it is now, with Malaysia Baru and our new government. We hope that our parliamentarians will push for this new law if not in this parliamentary session, then the next,” she said.
“This is not a problem faced by a particular community. This is a Malaysian problem and we need everyone to get involved.”
What are you waiting for? It’s time to play our part and show support for this great cause. Start posting those pictures, and remember the hashtags, #pelajarbukanpengantin and #studentnotspouse.