Wanita MCA has reiterated its position that the government should ban child marriage and efforts by any parent from unilaterally converting the religion of their child.Its president Heng Seai Kie, in her policy speech at the MCA women's wing annual general meeting today, said these were among the measures necessary to protect women's rights."The crux of the problem of child marriages is that we believe that underage girls below 18 are in their golden age of studies and self-fulfilment."They are not suitable for marriage, and their minds are not mentally mature nor prepared to make a decisive decision in selecting their spouse or their own life-long events."What's more, according to Child Act 2001, anyone who has sex with a minor girl under the age of 16, whether she consented to it or not, has committed an offence of rape," she added.In view of this, Heng said Wanita MCA recommended making child marriage a criminal offence under federal law to protect the safety and basic human rights of a child.On unilateral conversion, she said the government should incorporate the proposed Article 88A into the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, as originally intended during the BN administration.This law, Heng said, would prevent individuals from exploiting religion to "oppress" a former spouse by means of gaining child custody.Wanita MCA president Heng Seai KieThe Pakatan Harapan administration had refused to incorporate Article 88A despite pressure to do so.Article 88A had been suggested as a solution to discourage individuals from exploiting the law to gain child custody by means of unilaterally converting their child's religion to Islam.Heng also recommended amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 to clearly jail husbands who refuse to pay alimony.She suggested that the government amend laws to equal treatment of men and women in regard to citizenship for children born abroad as well.Current laws only allow foreign-born children of Malaysian men to gain citizenship.Meanwhile, Heng urged Wanita MCA members to gear up for the next general election.She said the party's wing had always been responsible for house visits and conducting surveys, but in view of the movement restrictions, it must now adapt, adding that the Wanita MCA "Jalinan Rakyat (JR)" programme must now go online."I would like to call on Malaysian Chinese voters to take a positive look and respond so that JR staff can listen to public feedback and comprehend the livelihood issues faced by the people so that the relevant government agencies can prescribe the right medicine to solve these difficulties.rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr"Although the task is arduous, remember that 'a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step' with unity in one's mind."I believe that as long as everyone is united, work together, and combined with the strength of the three major organs of the party, MCA will be able to complete our mission by June," she said.
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