Fury as man, 41, marries girl, 11
OUTRAGE is growing around the world after a 41-year-old Muslim man took the 11-year-old daughter of an impoverished employee as his third wife.
Che Abdul Karim, the self-proclaimed imam of Kampung Lalang village in Kuala Betis, Malaysia, reportedly travelled to the border town of Sungai Golok in southern Thailand to wed the child last month.
The girl's cash-strapped Thai parents are rubber tappers who work for Mr Karim, who has children aged five to 18 by his first two wives, according to The Borneo Post.
News of the illegal union spread after the man's second wife, 34, posted a photograph of the pair on social media with the caption: "Selamat pengantin baru suamiku. Suami 41, maduku 11 (Congratulations on your wedding, my husband, 41, his other wife, 11)."
Malaysian online news site The Star reported that the woman deleted the post after it went viral but said in another post that she had referred the matter to the courts and the Malaysian Department of Welfare.
The underage bride has never been to school and is a friend of one of Mr Karim's children, according to The Post.
The child's full name has been published in some Thai and Malaysian media but news.com.au has chosen to refer to her by her nickname, Ayu, because of her age.
Local media reported that Ayu gave her "consent" to the union after the older man expressed his desire to marry her.
Her parents agreed on the condition it would be a "nikah gantung" (suspended marriage) and he would wait until she turned 16 - the minimum legal age for marriage in Malaysia - before living together as husband and wife.
"I know that my third wife is only 11 years old, that she does not attend school and that she has to reach the age of 16 for us to live together. Ayu agrees to this too," Mr Karim told Malaysian wire service Bernama.
He said he took part in a marriage solemnisation ceremony on June 18 in the presence of Ayu's parents, who had given them their blessing.
Revulsion over the union is growing around the world and Mr Karim has been labelled a "paedophile" on social media by disgusted fellow Malaysians, who have called on authorities to intervene.
Mr Karim's second wife told The Star Online that she confronted him after photographs of the ceremony were sent to her by his first wife, 41.
She said he had previously "assured both wives that he would never marry a child" and initially dismissed the pictures as having been photoshopped.
After learning the truth the second wife posted the images to social media on Friday.
"I never expected this to actually happen," she told The Star.
"If he marries a woman and not a child, I can accept it. I even tried to match-make him with another woman but he declined. What angers me is he married my child's friend."
She added that she could "no longer stand" her husband and that both she and Mr Karim's first wife planned to divorce him.
"There is no use for this marriage to go on. I will go to the religious office tomorrow," she told Bernama yesterday.
"We've tried calling and texting him to settle our relationship but he's not answering."
Incredibly, Mr Karim said he was offended by the outrage and planned to sue media for defamation over allegations his other two wives were furious he had married a child.
"I was disappointed with various criticisms and allegations made against me in the social media after I took her as my third wife," he told Free Malaysia.
"I am looking into this matter to pursue a legal action to clear my name from the inaccurate and malicious allegations."