KUALA LUMPUR: Child marriages as a tradition is of no benefit to the individual or community, says Unicef Malaysia.
In Malaysia, parents may consent to child marriages to avoid the shame of premarital sex or pregnancies out of wedlock.
â€œChild marriages put girls at risk of early and unwanted pregnancies, posing life-threatening conseÂquences,â€ Unicef said in a statement yesterday.
Worldwide, more than 700 million girls and women alive today were married before their 18th birthday.
Unicef said in its initial report to the Government that the Committee on the Rights of the Child had emphasised that the minimum age for marriage with and without parental consent be set at 18 years, both for boys and girls.
â€œIn marking International Womenâ€™s Day (yesterday), let us not allow child marriage to rob our children, especially girls, of their opportunity to thrive,â€ it said.
Human Rights Commission of Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said Malaysia had made significant progress towards gender equality in recent years, particularly in education, but gender stereotyping was still common.
â€œThese affect women and girls in terms of opportunities to be equal to men in many areas,â€ he said in a statement yesterday.
Hasmy said Malaysia should adopt policies and legislations for the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls in line with Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable DevelopÂment Goals.
Among its targets is the elimination of violence against females, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
This also covered all harmful practices such as early and forced marriages and female genital mutilation.