A Malaysian state is to allow Muslim girls under the age of consent of 16 years to wed in a bid to stem unwed pregnancies, angering the country's women's activists and politicians.
The Islamic council in the southern Malaysian state of Malacca on Tuesday announced that it would to allow marriage for Muslims below the current minimum age of 16 years for females and 18 for males.
"This is an outrage. We're turning back the clock when there's ample evidence to show that we should not condone child marriages," said Ivy Josiah, executive director of Women's Aid Organization, a rights group.
Muslims make up about 60 percent of the 28 million population of the Southeast Asian country and fall under Islamic family and criminal laws individually drafted and run by each of the country's 13 states. Non-Muslims come under federal civil laws.
The chief minister of Malacca, Mohammad Ali Rustam, said permission would only be granted after consent by the teenager's families as well as the state Islamic courts.