Sharia Alert from “moderate” Malaysia, via AFP, with thanks to Sr. Soph:
KUALA LUMPUR – A rebellion is stirring in Malaysia over new legislation which critics say undermines the rights of Muslim women by making it easier for men to take multiple wives and claim property after divorce.
The government was forced to strike down opposition in the usually tame upper house Senate to push through the bill last week, only to face an avalanche of protest from civil society groups and ordinary citizens.
Letters pages in the usually tightly-controlled media have also been full of complaints over the “Islamic Family Law” bill which affects Malaysia’s Muslims, who make up about 60 percent of the population of 26 million people.
“Now I learn that if my husband were to marry another, he has the right to my property to support his new lifestyle!” wrote one outraged reader of the New Straits Times.
“Another provision makes it easier for men to obtain divorce … it is hard to imagine how much easier it can be, given the current situation where men can divorce their wives for no reason and even via SMS,” said another.
Malaysian Muslim men are allowed four wives under Islamic law, but under the new amendments they no longer have to prove they are financially capable of treating all their wives equally before taking on another.
On taking a new wife, men can now seize property belonging to existing wives, and they are also given new rights to claim assets after a divorce, as well as less obligation to pay compensation and maintenance.
“They are giving more rights to the men whilst taking back the traditional Muslim women’s rights,” said Razlina Razali from Sisters in Islam, one of several activist groups in an alliance demanding that the bill be abandoned.
“It’s not justified under Islam because Islam promotes the principle of equality and justice, and traditionally it guards the rights of Muslim women,” she said….
Women’s groups are planning petitions, letter-writing campaigns and other strategies to put pressure on the government, which rarely faces such open opposition….
“How long will it take to amend? Fifteen years? And how many women will suffered under it by then?” asked Razlina.
Read it all.