Can a Malay girl marry a Tamil boy?

Children in Malaysia

Enforce children's rights in Malaysia

The Malaysian government presents its country as one in which different ethnic groups live together peacefully and harmoniously. Unfortunately, the reality is different. Children of ethnic or religious minorities face many obstacles, but otherwise too little attention is paid to children's rights.

Main problems children face in Malaysia:


Many children in Malaysia suffer from poverty. Although the government has made some effort to improve the situation, UNICEF estimates the number of children under 15 living in difficult conditions and whose basic needs are not met at more than 72,000.

The organization works closely with the government to fight poverty and its consequences for children.

right to education

Right to Education In Malaysia, school attendance is compulsory for children aged 6-11 and public schools are free. Lessons are mainly held in Malay and English, but Chinese and Tamil are also not infrequently the language of instruction.

About 90% of the children go to school. But there are enormous differences between rural and urban areas. Children in the country, mostly of indigenous descent, often do not go to school. And only a quarter of the 90% finish primary school.

Non-citizens have to pay extra fees to send their children to school.

Girls are sometimes completely denied access to schooling for purely cultural reasons. Fortunately, education policy is improving, and gender equality in general is improving.

Right to identity

The Malaysian authorities do not allow children of immigrants or asylum seekers to register. Asylum seekers risk imprisonment for illegal immigration if they try to register their children.

Marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims are also not recognized. Parents who live in such mixed marriages also have problems registering their children.

Without a birth certificate, the children are stateless and are not allowed to go to school. This means that both their right to their own identity and their right to education are not safeguarded.

Right to equal treatment

Discrimination against children of ethnic minorities

The population in Malaysia is composed mainly of three ethnic groups: 60% Malay, 25% Chinese and 10% Indian.

A few years ago the Malaysian authorities developed an ethnic discrimination program that benefits Malaysians. The government feared that ethnic minorities would prevent the country from being unified. So they tried to give the Malays better opportunities to the detriment of the minorities.

This policy has made it impossible for children of Chinese, Indian and other minority groups to receive the same benefits as Malay children, especially education.

Discrimination against children of religious minorities

The state religion in Malaysia is Islam and 60% of the population are Muslim. Even if there is no persecution of religious minorities, they are still discriminated against. Due to the radicalization of the country, religious freedom only exists in theory. Christian children's books, for example, have been confiscated by the Malaysian authorities on the grounds that the images of the prophets Moses and Abraham violate Islamic law (Sharia law).

Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and other religious groups feel more and more targeted as their rights to practice their religion continue to be restricted.

Discrimination against girls

Equality between men and women cannot be taken for granted in Malaysia. Girls are not looked after in the same way as boys. However, there has already been considerable progress in the area of ​​education for girls.

Female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation (also called circumcision) is widespread among Malaysian Muslims. The procedure is usually performed by a doctor or midwife when the girls are a few months old.

And even if these genital mutilations are carried out in far more hygienic conditions than in some African countries, the procedure poses a threat to the health and even the life of girls. Female circumcision is passed on from generation to generation as a cultural tradition, regardless of the cruelty and the Pain caused to the girls by this.

Marriage of children

According to Islamic law, the minimum age for marriage is 18 for boys and 16 for girls. Muslims under 16 must get permission to marry before a religious court.

Every Muslim who wants to get married is required to undergo a premarital HIV / AIDS test. The government uses this investigation to record children who want to get married. However, it appears that the rules by which the religious courts act are becoming stricter and fewer permits for child marriages are being given than in previous years.

After a public wedding ceremony between a 14-year-old girl and a 23-year-old teacher in December 2010, a discussion broke out in the country on the subject. The Department of Women, Family and Community Development has issued a statement that child marriage is morally and socially unacceptable.


Despite some preventive efforts, the number of HIV / AIDS infections in Malaysia is increasing. There are simply not enough resources to effectively tackle all problems.

The UN Committee for Children's Rights is raising concerns about the increasing number of AIDS orphans and is supporting the country in organizing protection programs to remedy the situation.

National education programs that inform the population about ways to protect themselves against the virus would also be helpful. Unfortunately, AIDS is still a sensitive issue in Malaysia, making it very difficult to effectively disseminate prevention information among both adults and children.

Children - victims of violence

Torture is not prohibited in Malaysia. Criminal law also provides for beatings and lashes as an alternative to imprisonment. This punishment is usually applied to adult men and boys from the age of ten, even if their crime was not a violent offense. The boys then usually get ten lashes. In some states women and girls are spared such measures.

Death penalty for children

The death penalty is unfortunately also allowed for children in this country, which is contrary to their right to life. The death penalty is only available for a certain range of crimes, most of which endanger national security in some way. This includes, for example, the use of firearms, ammunition or explosives, disrupting internal security or public order, and terrorism. However, the death penalty has not been exercised on minors for a number of years.

Life imprisonment

In cases where the offenses do not allow the death penalty, life imprisonment is an alternative sentence against children.

In principle, however, life imprisonment is not allowed for children under the age of 14. However, this rule does not apply to people who have firearms or explosives, who disrupt internal security or public order, or who are related to terrorism.

Sexual exploitation

Child prostitution

Child sexual exploitation is not uncommon in rural areas. Children who live or work on the street often fall victim to this. Malaysia is a destination country for many women and girls from Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Mongolia and China. They come with the hope of honest work and a better life, but often end up in prostitution.

Child trafficking also plays a role in the country; sexual exploitation for commercial reasons.

Children who end up in prostitution are perceived as criminals or illegal immigrants and not for what they really are: victims.

Sexual abuse

In Malaysia, children are often sexually abused, also known as incest, in their own families.

Incest, on the other hand, is punished with a 6-20 year prison term and beatings. However, statements made by children are only accepted if there is solid evidence. But most of the time the child is the only witness to this crime.

Child labor

Working is forbidden for children under the age of 14, but they are allowed to help out in family businesses. Children can also be employed in entertainment, for the government, in schools or as apprentices.

In any case, a child is not allowed to work more than six hours a day and six days a week or at night. However, these regulations are definitely still too loose to protect the interests of children.

Street children

In the state of Sabah, illegal immigrants give birth to around 15,000 children who then live on the streets. These children are not registered publicly and are therefore not citizens of the country.

They have no chance of government support and so often fall victim to child trafficking. In order to secure their basic needs, they are forced into prostitution or child labor or become part of criminal machinations.

Refugee children and their families are also in a very similar situation to street children. They are not welcomed in the country and have no protection or access to education. They too are often victims of human trafficking and slavery.

Malaysia has ratified neither the Refugee Convention nor the protocol to it and there is no legal protection either. Refugees can therefore be deported and sent back to their country at any time, even if this puts their lives in danger.