A RICH trader’s decision to marry the 11-year-old daughter of desperately poor rubber farmers has sparked an international outcry.

According to reports, the 41-year-old Malaysian man already has two wives.

He started dating the 11-year-old in March this year, apparently marrying her without the knowledge of his other two wives late in June.

According to the Malay Mail, the Islamic Family Enactment law states: “No marriage may be solemnised under this Enactment where either the man is under the age of eighteen or the woman is under the age of sixteen except where the Syariah Judge has granted his permission in writing in certain circumstances.”

No Syariah – or religious Islamic – judge is known to have given the unnamed man written permission to do so.

The 41-year-old husband could be jailed for six months if he married the girl without first getting permission.

Reports also state that the marriage has not been registered in Malaysia. It is believed to have taken place in the girl’s homeland which neighbours Malaysia, Thailand.

Her farmer parents apparently provide rubber to her new husband to trade.

On Sunday, social media reports resulted in sharp condemnation from my quarters.

Child activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi said: “Marrying an 11-year-old girl is like the behaviour of a child predator or paedophile.”

Unicef’s Malaysia representative, Marianne Clark-Hattingh, said: “It is shocking and unacceptable. Unicef ... calls on the government to make good its manifesto promise to ban child marriage.”

Malaysia’s deputy prime minister, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was quoted in the Sunday Star as saying: “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.”

According to The Guardian, about 16 000 Malaysian girls under the age of 15 are already wives.

Muslim men are allowed to take a maximum of four wives.