The Muslim Personal Law Reforms Action Group (MPLRAG) has spelt out four guiding principles for the state to ensure when carrying out the reforms for the Sri Lankan Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) of 1951, while reiterating the State’s responsibility to ensure ‘equality, justice and non-discrimination.’
The guiding principles for the reforms covered; the State’s responsibility to ensure Equality, Justice and Non‐Discrimination; Women as key stakeholders in reform, Respect for the heterogeneous character of Muslim community and diversity of opinion; and Recognition of the dynamism of Islamic Jurisprudence.
In a statement issued today, the group said that the Sri Lankan state has a role and the responsibility to ensure all its citizens are treated equally and without discrimination. “Equality before the law and equal treatment under the law is a fundamental right. The MMDA and the Quazi court system is a special law and cannot be utilized to deny any Muslim citizen of Sri Lanka his/her fundamental rights and protections under the Constitution. If this is permitted some Muslim citizens will effectively be rendered second-class citizens,” the statement said.
The MPLRAG pointed out that the Muslim women have been the most affected by the MMDA and Quazi court system and the mandate for reform is principally derived from their call for changes to MMDA. “Therefore women’s experiences of the law and its implementation procedure and their just expectations must inform and shape the reform agenda. In the current reform initiatives which are underway, Muslim women must have a place at the table. Their voices and demands should be heard and engaged with as the key constituency that is most affected,” the statement said.
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