A PAS lawmaker defended child marriage, saying that curbing it would only encourage pre-marital sexual relations among minors.
Nik Mazian Nik Mohamad (PAS-Pasir Puteh) said children below the age of 16 already have sexual urges and the curiosity to engage in casual sex.
"If we prevent them from marrying (young), they will have these urges and will be exposed or will have pre-marital sex," he told Teo Nie Ching (DAP-Kulai) during the debate on the Child (Amendment) Bill 2015.
To this, an infuriated Teo asked Nik Mazian if he knew the definition of statutory rape.
"Having sex with someone below 16 is statutory rape. How can we allow our child to marry a rapist?
"What is important is that we must have education," she added.
She was referring to a case of a 40-year-old restaurant manager who married a teenager he had allegedly raped.
The accused was charged with raping the 13-year-old girl in Inanam, Sabah, in February 2013.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim reportedly said that the legal age for marriage in Malaysia is 18 for boys and 16 for girls.
Rohani added that for those who were younger, consent letters from parents were needed along with approvals from the court and head of government of the state concerned.
According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as anyone under 18 unless "under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier".