Marriage, as they say, is often made in heaven. But it could be said, it is also turned into hell, here on God’s mighty earth. How else can one possibly summarise the stunning, rather bewildering piece of news emanating from Malaysia?

It’s believed that a 41-year-old man from Malaysia ended up marrying a girl much younger than his age. In fact, so massive was the divide between the two that the girl who the Malaysia man married was a child, the bride aged 11.

Can you even believe that? In a world where all sorts of crazy things happen all the time, this one is a shocker than few other unbelievable happenings stand the challenge to match.

In a bit of a surprising revelation, perhaps one that may not have been known to many, it’s actually legal in Malaysia to marry a woman below the age of 16, provided, one obtains a fair permission from a religious court. But, lest it is forgotten that anyone under that age group is a child.

That is not all. Exacerbating this rather uncanny matter of child marriage further is a peculiar statistic. It is believed that as many as 16,000 girls in Malaysia, below the age of 15, are actually married. Isn’t this somewhat startling? At an age where most of these girls- can’t even dub them women- could’ve been busy pursuing academic goals and interests, many of them may well be on course to pursue motherhood.

But the recent event in Malaysia, the 41-year-old marrying an 11-year-old has clearly outraged the community, with many in the Muslim Malay community denouncing the act. In fact, the shocking incident actually has it that the girl bride happens to be a Thai citizen.

That told, there’s no certainty that the marriage took place keeping all legal and religious considerations in place and in proper contention. In fact, it’s believed that, thus far, there is no record whatsoever of the religious authorities ever approving the union, that took place around May in 2018.

Having clearly irked the local authorities in the South-eastern country, the marriage has created a furore everywhere. And if found guilty, then the man could actually face some jail-time, which, well, won’t be that surprising, truth be told. This jail-term could actually extend to six months.

On probed about the incident, here’s what the local authorities submitted in earnest.

“Our officers have gone to the house and met the girl’s mother. We are waiting for more reports before deciding on the next course of action,” as shared by the deputy prime minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in the Sunday Star newspaper.

Having clearly earned the wrath of the Muslim community for its sheer suddenness and shock-value, the marriage has been condemned locally, with many going ahead and calling the act of the 41-year-old as ‘predatory.’ In many a person’s views, the marriage was nothing less than an incorrigible act.

In the words of the famous Malay activist, Syed Azmi Alhabshi, marrying a girl-child is “An act only possible by a predator.” What’s most appalling is that the parents, especially the families on either side (the groom and the bride) never presented any resentment whatsoever, to a rather bizarre communion. Isn’t it? How else can one possibly describe a rather ‘draconian’ occurrence?

What’s most interesting is that, in Malaysia, men are legally allowed to carry as many as four wives. Did you know that?

Meanwhile, the rather controversial incident generated a lot of heat from different parts of the globe. The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said it was “outraged” by the incident. And perhaps, it is only right or just to criticise such an incident. In any other civilized part of the world- even the slightest attempt to perform such an act would have well been shunted and castigated. One can only wonder when will woeful acts such as child marriages be decriminalised. Does Malaysia need to have a strong re-look at its legal structure particularly in lines with marriageable age?

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