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News and Views: Malaysia

Malaysia: Outrage After Sharia Court Allows Rapist to Marry His 13-year-old Victim

May 29, 2013

Local prosecutors are pursuing a statutory rape charge against 40-year-old restaurant manager Riduan Masmud, who allegedly had sex with the girl in a parked car outside the Sabah state capital Kota Kinabalu in February. The girl is now 13 and his defense is that he married her.

 

State officials in Sabah want the marriage annulled. The girl is known to be from a very poor family and in one interview Riduan said the rape was a case of “suka sama suka” (“mutual consent”).

Zainah Anwar: Arab Spring opens window of opportunity for women in Mideast

April 29, 2012
In many countries of the Middle East, women are wondering what the Arab Spring means for them. Some observers are concerned that the power vacuum will leave the door open for Islamist groups to take power and force changes opposing women’s rights.

 Zainah Anwar, a leading Malaysian social activist and intellectual, is not one of them. She is even excited about the prospects that the Arab Spring could have for women.

Malaysia: Kedah’s law on fatwas un-Islamic, says Perlis mufti

April 19, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR — Kedah’s new legislative provision which bans the challenge of religious edicts (fatwa) in the courts goes against Islamic principles, Perlis Mufti Dr Juanda Jaya has said.

The religious scholar asked if Kedah PAS-led administration wanted to become a theocratic government instead of forming Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) often-promoted progressive, welfare state.

“The new fatwa enactment shows they are actually heading towards theocracy and intend on imposing beliefs (on others),” he told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

“This is against Islam,” he said.

Malaysia: Kedah’s new fatwa ruling equates man’s word to God

April 20, 2012

APRIL 20 — The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) is shocked and deeply concerned by media reports on Kedah’s new fatwa ruling. The amendments to the Mufti and Fatwa (Kedah Darul Aman) Enactment 2008 now bar a fatwa from being “challenged, appealed, reviewed, denied or questioned in any civil court or syariah court.”

Muslim women's rights in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore

March 14, 2012

This article was originally published in Dutch in "Moslemvrouwenrechten" (Muslim Women's Rights) Al-Nisa, Islamitisch maandblad voor vrouwen (Islamic monthly for women), 31st year, Volume 2, Mar 2012.

Malaysia: Ban on Obedient Wives Club 'Islamic Sex Book'

November 5, 2011

A controversial manual by the head of an Islamic sect that teaches wives obedient and submissive sex faces a ban from the Malaysian government, with those in possession paying a hefty price for it.

Malaysia: 'Obedient Wives Club' Sex Book a Cheap Stunt, Say Women’s Groups

October 14, 2011

PETALING JAYA: Women's groups have hit out at the Obedient Wives Club' for its “explicit sex book” which called on a Muslim husband to have joint sex with all his spouses.

Sisters in Islam (SIS) acting executive director Ratna Osman called it a “cheap stunt” to get its name in the local and international media spotlight.

She said the group failed to look at the demands of society, which called for gender equality and progress in education.

Malaysia: Sisters in Islam Remains Firmly Opposed to the Implementation of Hudud Law

October 4, 2011

Sisters in Islam (SIS) is unequivocally opposed to the adoption and implementation of Hudud law in Malaysia. This has been our considered position since 1993. Our stand on Hudud law is based on the following reasons:

Malaysia: Women Seizing the Political Agenda

September 29, 2011

Women are claiming a leading role the political reform movement in Malaysia. In July this year, around 50,000 Malaysians braved a massive state-sponsored onslaught against freedom of expression and freedom of assembly to gather in the nation's capital to demand electoral reform. It was the second time that Malaysians gathered in a mass rally to demand these reforms, but the first time that the call was led by a woman, Ambiga Sreenevasan, and where the lead organisation was a women's rights NGO, Empower. This put gender directly in the spotlight of the Bersih movement.

Malaysia: Hudud Laws - Between the Implicit and the Explicit

September 27, 2011

The hudud controversy has now returned to the eyes of the media after it was discussed at the National Syariah Seminar sponsored by the Department of Islamic Affairs of Kelantan.

PAS indeed had taken a step forward in their comprehensive proposals for a welfare state but their preoccupation with the hudud issue clearly shows that they are still stuck in the framework of antiquarian politics.

Malaysia: Why Hudud Law Is Everybody’s Business

September 23, 2011

SEPT 23 — Once again the familiar argument has surfaced, or been desperately invoked, this time in the latest stand-off between the leading Pakatan Rakyat allies Karpal Singh and Anwar Ibrahim.

Hudud law, if implemented, will apply only to Muslims, Anwar Ibrahim again insists, so the question is one that concerns only Muslims, not Malaysian citizens of other faiths — or no conventional doctrinal allegiance at all. So non-Muslims have nothing to fear, no legitimate interest in the matter, and no right to express any opinion. The matter is for Muslims alone.

Outrage as 'Obedient Wives Club' spreads across south-east Asia

July 6, 2011

A women's group that aims to teach Muslim wives how to "keep their spouses happy in the bedroom" is taking root in south-east Asia, prompting outrage from Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Malaysia: Muslim women's rights leaders spoke against the Obedient Women's Club

July 18, 2011

Interview by Fathol Zaman Bukhari. There has been much furore over the formation of the Obedient Wives’ Club by a fringe Islamic group causing heated debate among women and men, alike. Ipoh Echo sought the views of two Malay Muslim women who helm a women’s rights movement here in Ipoh. Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar and Puan Halida Mohd Ali are from the Perak Women for Women Society. Here are their answers to our questions:

IE: Your views on the formation of the Obedient Wives’ Club by Islamic fringe group, Global Ikhwan on Saturday, June 4.

Malaysia: 'Obedient Wives' to be 'whores in bed'

June 4, 2011


KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – A group of Malaysian women launched an "Obedient Wife Club" on Saturday, urging members to be "whores in bed" and obey their husbands to curb social ills like divorce and domestic violence.

FGM: It happens in Malaysia too

February 3, 2011


KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — Female genital mutilation (FGM) is not a familiar custom in Malaysia. FGM is synonymous with the Middle East and African countries, and is a shocking and barbaric practice. A number of academics and researchers have expressed concern over what seems to be a growing prevalence of FGM in Malaysia.

Malaysia: Why Some Women Wear a Hijab and Some Don’t

April 18, 2011


In Malaysia, which is predominantly Muslim, some women wear the hijab, a head scarf that shows the face but covers the hair, ears and neck. And some do not. A new documentary, “Siapa Aku?” or “Who Am I?” by Norhayati Kaprawi, a young Muslim woman, explores the reasons why.

Malaysia: Nazreen Nizam of Sisters in Islam laments Malaysian regression in rights

April 13, 2011


BANGKOK (TrustLaw) – Malaysia is considered a tolerant, progressive and successful developing Muslim nation; its capital is a gleaming metropolis with one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world.

Yet the politicisation of religion in recent years has led to a regression in gender rights under the country’s Islamic Family Law, a prominent women’s rights group, which is aiming to reform the legislation, told TrustLaw.

Zainah Anwar - In search of what Islam really says

March 8, 2011


The nation’s leading Muslim feminist activist explains what drove her to open the Quran and search for answers to what it means to be Muslim and feminist.

Islam’s religious pluralism in context

February 8, 2011


The question of whether Islam accepts religious pluralism depends on an understanding of the term and hinges on the Quranic verses, writes Mohamad Hashim Kamali. 

THE current debate as to whether Islam accepts religious pluralism as opposed to mere religious plurality calls for further reflection. Much would depend, it seems, on how one understands religious pluralism and then the three Quranic verses that characterise Islam.

One Day One Struggle: International Campaign to Promote Sexual and Bodily Rights across Muslim Societies

November 9, 2010

On November 9, 2010, the 2nd international “One Day One Struggle” Campaign to promote sexual and bodily rights in Muslim societies will take place in 12 countries across Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia.

Malaysia: Way of the middle path

November 7, 2010


Political leaders must work together to delegitimise extreme and intolerant voices. The public cannot be given mixed and confusing signals.

In the last few weeks, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in seeming earnestness, has been calling for the voice of moderation to prevail in Malaysia and in the world.

He has even introduced an Arabic word to the Malaysian vocabulary –wasatiyyah, which means “the middle way”.

Update: Uncertain Role for Female Shariah Judges in Malaysia

July 14, 2010


KUALA LUMPUR — Women’s groups have applauded the recent appointment of two female judges to Islamic courts in Malaysia, but its significance is not yet clear: The new judges will have to wait a month before finding out whether they will be prevented from hearing certain cases.

Malaysia: Islamic Courts Appoint First Female Judges

July 8, 2010


The decision by the Malaysian government to appoint women judges to its Islamic courts has been welcomed by Muslim feminist groups. 

The Sisters in Islam (SIS) group based in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, told the BBC it had been pressing for this for many years.

The government said the new judges were part of its sharia reform efforts.

Moral police need policing, too

April 28, 2010


Fearing public embarrassment, couples accused of infringing religious laws on morality often put themselves at risk of physical hurt, and even death.

WHEN a fatal accident happens, usually there will be an enquiry to find out the reasons behind it. Landslides may cause homes to be buried along with some occupants so an enquiry is needed to decide who is at fault and to be held responsible.

Or schoolchildren out on an excursion may wind up drowned and investigations must be done, not least to ensure such a tragedy never happens again.

UPDATE: MALAYSIA - Kartika's caning sentence commuted to community service

In a Press Statement issued by Sisters in Islam (SIS), the Malaysian women's group, one of the most well-known nongovernment groups in this Muslim-majority country, registered their happiness with the decision by Sultan of Pahang, Duli Yang Maha Mulia Tuanku Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah, to commute Kartika’s caning sentence to community service.

Malaysia: Religion Minister Rejects Child Marriage Reform

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - – Malaysia's religion minister on Tuesday defended Islamic laws that allow girls under 16 to marry, amid a controversy over two youngsters who were married off to middle-aged men.

Malaysia: Ban lifted on Sisters In Islam (SIS) book

KUALA LUMPUR: The SIS Forum (Malaysia) succeeded in throwing out the Home Minister’s order banning its 215-page book, Muslim Women and the Challenges of Islamic Extremism.

High Court judge Justice Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof on Monday ruled that the book is not a threat to public order.

He said the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia’s (Jakim) objection to the book was that it could confuse Muslims, especially those who with only a superficial knowledge of their religion, as the publication explains Islamic teachings according to the writers’ own views.

Making people disappear

WHEN I was media officer at a local feminist organisation, the Malaysian police claimed in their press statements to have solved 80% of crimes against women in 2005. That these figures were greeted with near-universal derision by activists working on women's human rights would not, I wager, be a surprise to many.

Further reports suggest that "solved" was defined as the police having identified the perpetrators. It does not necessarily mean these perpetrators were actually charged and convicted by the courts.