Girls as young as 11 have been giving birth among Malaysia's Orang Asli, or "original people," according to a report.
The New Straits Times quoted a government official as saying that he had been shocked during a recent visit to the Cameron Highlands to find mothers as young as 11 and 12 years old in the maternity ward of a local hospital.
AdvertisementThe child mothers were all from remote Orang Asli communties, the newspaper reported.
The official, T. Murugiah, was also quoted as saying that many of these mothers returned to their villages without first obtaining birth certificates for their newborn infants.
"This will pose a problem not only for the child and the parents but also the government in later years," said Murugiah, a deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department.
The Orang Asli make up less than one percent of Malaysia's population and are disadvantaged in terms of income, health, education and living standards.
Jaafar Jantan, a public relations officer with the government's Orang Asli Affairs Department, told the newspaper his agency will work closely with the registration department to help the community secure birth certificates.
As for the issue of child mothers, "it is still accepted in their society to start a family as soon as one hits puberty," Jaafar added.