Parliamentary Question: 8 May 2019
Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Social and Family Development for each of the last five years (a) what is the gender breakdown of the under-18 party in successful applications for the Special Marriage Licence; (b) what is the average age gap between the couples; and © how many and what percentage of marriages granted under the Special Marriage Licence have been civil marriages.
Mr Desmond Lee: A Special Marriage Licence (SML) is required before civil marriages, where at least one party is below 18 years of age, can be solemnised. The process includes a comprehensive assessment of the applicants’ suitability for marriage. For Muslim marriages involving a Muslim girl below 18 years of age, an SML is not required, but a Kadi must first assess whether the marriage can endure and is beneficial to both individuals before he solemnises the marriage. In addition, for both civil and Muslim marriages where at least one party is below 21 years old, the couple is required to attend a mandatory marriage preparation programme. Consent from the minor’s parents or guardians is also required before the marriage can be solemnised.
The gender breakdown and the average age gap for successful SML applications from 2013 to 2017 are as follows:
The number of civil and Muslim marriages involving at least one party below 18 years old is as follows:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)
The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities. She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and volunteerism in Parliament.
She is also an impact entrepreneur/investor and a passionate mental health advocate, especially in workplace wellbeing. She started WorkWell Leaders Workgroup in May 2018 to bring together top leaders (CXOs, Heads of HR/CSR/D&I) of top employers in Singapore (both public and private) to share, discuss and co-create inclusive practices to promote workplace wellbeing. Anthea is also the founder of Hush TeaBar, Singapore’s 1st silent teabar and a social movement that aims to bring silence, self care and social inclusion into every workplace, every community — with a cup of tea. The Hush Experience is completely led by lovingly-trained Deaf facilitators, supported by a team of Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHIs).