4 February, 2023

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WAN Condemns Misogynic Conduct Of Muslim MPs Towards Female MMDA Reform Committee Member

The Women’s Action Network (a collective of nine women’s rights groups) Condemns Misogynic Conduct of Muslim Members of Parliament towards female MMDA reform Committee Member

The reform discussion of the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) has resurfaced in the last few weeks and with that, the usual mud sliding on the Muslim women and victims, who have been demanding for reform of this discriminatory law has also been hyping up. The demand for reform, in short, is to make MMDA to be in compliance with the Fundamental Rights Chapter of the Constitution and bring its administration of justice within the national judicial system. Recently a statement signed by 18 male Muslim Members of Parliament initiated by a senior lawyer as the chair of the ‘Muslim Civil Society Alliance’ which included All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulema, The All Ceylon YMMA Conference, The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka and the National Shoora Council surfaced. What these men basically demand for is the retention of the exclusivist Quazi system and ‘conditional’ polygamy. 

In the meantime, there were a series of YouTube videos in which Justice Saleem Marsoof (as the chair of a former MMDA reform committee) and many young women reform advocates have been labeled as NGOs and accused of discrediting and betraying the community. This actually reminded Women’s Action Network (WAN) members how Nationl Tawheed Jamat (NTJ) and Sri Lanka Tawheed Jamat (SLTJ) attacked our members, the ground level women activists when they started to expose the injustice committed against Muslim women and children under the MMDA administered through the male only Quazi system. In fact, many of us complained, approached the police and even went to court but no support came our way. Later we all were left to wonder, in vain, how the Easter Sunday bombers in 2019 emerged from within our own community. 

On the 8th December 2022, the Justice Minister Hon. Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, PC., called for a consultation with the Muslim parliamentarians and the members of the reform committee appointed by former justice minister Ali Sabry, PC. that continues to work with the current justice minister. We hear disturbing behaviours by some of the elected representatives towards the one and only female committee member who was present there – particularly MP Rishard Bathiudeen calling her an NGO representative and Minister Nazeer Ahamed – warning her for speaking out the truth, especially on the sufferings of the Muslim women. 

WAN vehemently condemns this unruly and unethical conduct of some of these elected representatives. The reform committee members came to the parliament accepting the invitation of the justice minister as experts on the topic and the MPs should have had the presence of mind to have listened to her expertise, especially when it came from a female lawyer with long years of experience dealing with thousands of affected women, instead of trying to shout down and intimidate her. This itself demonstrates their respect for their own community’s learned women. We are standing in solidarity with the position taken by the female representatives of this committee and we will continue to give our support to them and expose anyone who attempts suppress and/or threaten them for their stand.

We wish to recall that not heeding the whistle blowing by women, as early as in February 2019, about Zaharan Cassim’s violent extremism, including by the then Muslim ministers and failure to prevent extremism resulted in the horrendous trajedy that befell all of us from which we are still struggling to recover. The intolerance towards Muslim women advocating for equality and transperancy and the demand to retain the exclusive Quazi system outside the mainstrem judiciary is to perputate the suppression of Muslim women and to contribute towards entrenching inequality and non transperancy within the community. 

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Latest comments

  • 7
    1

    What can any right-thinking man or woman do but applaude these women. Humankind is always evolving and in time these women will get their wishes. But in the mantime they are being subject to abuse and violence, physically and mentally.

  • 4
    10

    It is sad that some women’s ego seems to be more important than the wellbeing of poor women. The new proposals has consented for the age of marriage to be 18, Appointment of female quazi and strict conditions on polygamy. Of course, If anyone chooses not to go to a Quazi, they are free to end up in superior courts. The new proposals has a bonus that has never been demanded by women. The Board of Quazi’s is also open to the appointment of women. Wonder what some of these protesters are demanding other than to satisfy their ego.

    A quazi divorce will probably take a maximum of 8 monthsto annul a marriage and it will be at zero cost to the litigants. If they are send to the district court, it can take up to 10 years and hundreds of thousands in legal fees.(Wonder how many of the acticits are lawyers?) How many of the poor rural women can afford these expensive lawyers? Yes, like all judicial processes, there are a few short comings in the quazi system to but we should not throw the baby with the bath water. Muslims must come together to ensure that the quazi courts function without any blemishes. It is the responsibility of every Muslim.,

    • 2
      3

      “A quazi divorce will probably take a maximum of 8 months to annul a marriage and it will be at zero cost to the litigants. “Thalak Thalak Thalak” How much did it costed for me?

      Are you saying just for the 8months beggar alms from quazi, Muslim women should surrender their rights? If one of the 72 women stuck with a Jihadi also can come and get a quazi verdict to get rid of the one they were stuck with? Why a Jihadi die? Why should the Muslim women not fight for their wishes and die like a Jihadi die for his wish? “வெறும் கோவில் இதில் என்ன அபிஷேகம்

      உன் மனம் எங்கும் தெரு கூத்து பகல் வேஷம் “. How many essays have you so far written supporting (or even against) the Iran Jihadist women who are dying to take off their head burden? (30 years ago, in Canada, an Iranian woman was working with me. She said, “We all were protesting Sha, in order to bring into this government; none of us even dreamed that it would turn into like this.” She too had escaped to Canada as a refugee, like Eelam Tamils. I wonder what she would say about the current situation.) The women appointed to these quazi courts would not behave anything different from Jeevan Thiyagaraja, in the North.

    • 1
      2

      ” How many of the poor rural women can afford these expensive lawyers? “

      Where is the thinking that all must have equal justice, after all you are living in the 21st century? Muslims are rated as the richest community in the country. You think Muslim women are the poor in the country. Why is that anything does for the duck is giving stomach pain for gander? Poor women are government problems. Muslim ministers & writers played a leading role for country become like this by taking rewards and supporting corrupted governments. Muslim ministers like Nazeer should stop UNP-SLFP-UNP-SLFP boat hopping and putting in pocket. Why the Muslim ministers and writers are not taking Aanduwa to to UNHRC for 4/21 bombing and the rights followed it. Are you guys wishing that the Sinhala Modaya Aanduwa must go more and more corrupted so you can bring the quazi verdict for the so called “Poor Women”.Why can’t you start to talk honestly for “poor women’, instead of postulating a theory that Muslim women are the only one poor and you are shedding crocodile tears only for them?

    • 1
      1

      Appointment of female Quazi and strict conditions on polygamy is progressive but is not enough; the Quazi Courts should have 50% female representation; what is wrong with that?

  • 3
    1

    There is the complaint: “What these men basically demand for is the retention of the exclusivist Quazi system and ‘conditional’ polygamy.”
    It is not quite misogynist conduct, although I reject any such demand if it exists.
    *
    “..disturbing behaviours by some of the elected representatives towards the one and only female committee member who was present there – particularly MP Rishard Bathiudeen calling her an NGO representative and Minister Nazeer Ahamed – warning her for speaking out the truth, especially on the sufferings of the Muslim women.”
    Calling one an NGO representative is not a gender issue.
    Warning anyone about expressing views on any issue is a serious matter. If there was a threat, that should have been addressed in the relevant forum.
    *
    Reference is made to abusive comments in YouTube videos. If a parliamentarian was involved the matter is pertinent to the title of the comment.
    *
    Misogyny is not the preserve of a particular religious community. Without exception all established religions are misogynist; and there is much to rectify in our social attitudes.

  • 6
    0

    Why cannot CT name the ‘one and only’ female committee member? We like to know who this lady is!
    The tussle between the patriarchal Muslim men and the Muslim women fighting for their rights can be compared to the contest between the Tamil parties and the government of Sri Lanka!
    Members of the ‘Muslim Civil Society Alliance’ appear to be the same type of hardliners as the Sinhala politicians who are loath to grant any concessions to the Tamils!

  • 8
    2

    These primitive ways of thinking are a curse on humanity. We are born free , not to be moulded according to some ancient religious belief system .

    All these religions reflect the area of its origin.The new converts in other parts of the world are being very stupid to follow tribal Arab culture. It is like a Sri Lankan doing a devil dance in New York to chase away the devils ! In that culture you may be acting stupid. New York is much more prosperous without devil dancing or pirith ceremonies.

    Men dictating what women can do is based on a simple/gross physical strength basis.
    Now the world is changing, women are even ruling some countries.

    In the past, women were just like a commodity, passed from her foolish parents to an uneducated husband to produce babies and cook and clean for him, not to be seen by any one else.

    The way we think must change. women are not born to slavery or to be looked as a mere extension of a man

  • 4
    1

    deepthi silva,
    Good one. Thank you! It is for the same reason I keep repeating “develop the masses thinking;don’t sped time with politicians.” Even if one two current politicians are rehabilitated, new one coming rule the masses in future will re-invent their original nature, if the masses are not educated.

  • 1
    5

    No one is saying only
    Muslim women are the poor ones who cannot afford a divorce in the magistrate, district or higher courts. There is provision for Muslims to get a divorce at zero costs and why throw it away. There are no lawyers representing any one in a quazi court. Ofcourse if the judgement by any quazi needs to be contested there is legal provision to escalate the case to higher courts up to SC. Why should any muslim forgo this concession that has existed from the 1801 Mohammedans law introduced by colonial rulers. People who comment are not of the muslim faith and have no idea of Muslim laws. Personal laws are not just for Muslims but there is Thesawalama for Tamils and Kandyan law for the upcountry Sinhalese among others. So if you are happy with your law that takes you to courts for 10-15 years, be my guest. Your daughter would have gone out of production by the time she gets her divorce

    • 1
      1

      Hilmy,

      The people are standing in line for basic needs. Langkang was at 2 in the list for its achievement when the colonialists were leaving. As a writer, did you question ever when people had to give up their wealth for the one after other bad laws and the country lose the social wealth and become worse than Somalia, did you questioned that action of disenfranchising the Up-country Tamils voting right which was given to them by the colonialist? You say that Colonists gave you special law based on your religion. Apparently, because of that, Sinhalese accused the Muslims’ supporting the colonialists and 1915 rights were the result of that. Sinhalese, on that occasion did not just fight with Muslims, but fought even with Colonialists and were severely reprimanded by that time Governor General. MMDA was not passed in 1901 the same way it is now. In 1801, Ceylon was not formed at that time and not any of the Colonialists’ laws were applicable to Ceylon or Sri Lanka. Rual women had no knowledge of what the Business deal the Muslim men were having the Colonilaist. Don’t come to tell me that in 1801, that the Muslim women who representing in the parliament as 50:50 and voted for that act and got is passed. That is just, cheating, in-genuine pure concoction to deny the Muslim women’s right.

    • 0
      1

      You always complain that others are talking without understanding & pretend like you are an underdog because of that, but you never honestly explained anything to the people who do not understand, did you? Remember there was no change in inserted as Desavalami, like Don Stephen did in 1951 for his Muslim minister friend who voted for Indian Pakistani citizenship act,1948, for laws the introduced by the Dutch colonialist, in North. The change is only Dutch Law not Thesawalamai. Anyway, Desavalamai is applicable for the region, not selective on language or religion and nor for the whole country, unlike MMDA. MDDA applicable in Jaffna Tamil Muslim woman and Galle Sinhala Muslim women, but Desavalamai in North East and Kandyan law is in Central. It is big dogging habit in Langkang, with in Muslim and Sinhala Buddhist politicians that if you point a blame on them, then they reply: “How come America is doing that?”. Do you honestly think that it is lawful argument that because Tamils are using Desavalamai so without considering any merits or demerits, Muslim should be allowed to insert a new Law in 1951 and and create stories round it to justify their talks? You never justify MMDA on its own merits but argue on technical points.

    • 1
      1

      You say people are talking without knowing Muslim laws. That is only storytelling, not a logical argument. Knowing or not knowing the ordinary people may talk, but international law experts are not recognizing the many parts of the Sharia in the UN. They are not laymen. (Remember, during the Covid-19 IC supported Ceylon Muslims burial rights because WHO scientists believed burial is not spreading Covid-19 as believed by the laypeople. When Olimpic prescribe a safe dress for women swimming, you do not allow them to wear it? You cannot go to French beaches with Muslim dress because they don’t want to risk the guards’ lives. ) There is no need to insert a new, nowhere exiting MMDA on Tamil Muslim women who were enjoying the freedom appearing in the Desavalamai from prehistoric time. (Desavalamai was here before the Dutch Colonialism introduced Roman Dutch law) Why do you think that the Dutch who introduced many of their laws in the Tamil areas they were ruling but left Desavalamai as it is? You are saying that Aanai and Paanai are the same, so, because Tamils have Desavalamai so why not Muslims have MMDA. Sorry sir Tamils never asked the Dutch to give them Thesawalamai because in future Muslims are going to have MMDA.

    • 0
      1

      While Dutch were forcing their law on Tamils (there was a reason for that), they left Thesawalamai as it is because there was a reason for that. Tamils did not create laws equal to Dutch, in business or crime, but they had a law that was equally logical on personal arbitration. You say people are talking without knowing. How much understanding of justification of the Desavalamai do you have? I do not think it is even an iota of it! That shows your faith in your argument. Please next time put forward that you honestly believe is correct, if you wish that somebody should listen to you. Colonialists conquered Tamils and ruled. Because they were forced by the 1801 case ruling (It is not act like MMDA) of a whimsical Judge, (until that case, Muslim women too were enjoying the customary freedom) on the Muslim Tamils women whom British were ruling, there is no requirement for the Muslim Tamil women to keep that onus after Colonialist have left 75 years ago. Muslim women have every right to modernize their laws and live like equal citizens with all other men and women.

    • 0
      1

      You are not answering the question of why Muslims women should jump into the well of tribal law because the country’s proper law system takes 8-10 years to deliver a verdict. There are about 1 million cases pending in courts. Why did you not suggest your MMDA law evading tribal technique to the Sinhala Ministers and solve all those cases, instead of Sinhala Only Jury Verdict? Instead of showing Sinhala Ministers on one hand the gun of election and on the other hand the cash, could you talk to Deal Dasa about that, please? If a woman is poor, it cannot be justified that she be subjected to tribal law and secretly allow the men to step on her neck in the kitchen and pretend to the world that you provide justice inside the Quazies. You are telling me “Husband says Thalak Thalak Thalak, and after that woman go to court and file case against her husband? “ Quazi is there for men to prevail. Please do not hide the whole pumpkin inside the rice plate. It is well known on divorce cases, Tamils Judges warn the erring parties, but send back to amicably solve their differences. That is because the law does not want to encourage men’s behavior of sucking the Thenkaai Korompai and throwing it in the roadside garbage can.

    • 0
      1

      In contrast, in the West, if the parties had lived separately for some time without being able to reunite, judges allow the divorce. Do you know that in many Western democracies if the spouse is not voluntarily witness to court about the family violence that party (the victim) will be subjected harsh treatment by law. That is how they handle family violence. They do not end it up like “Woman, you too had freedom, so why didn’t you go to court?” Your inferior understanding is not getting that a poor woman must subject herself to inferior quazies, just because you say after that verdict she can go to Court, she is not going to get need money to go to court. Now all that is in her hand is a binding quazi, biased order; no money to contest; if she borrows, she still cannot escape the 8-10 years delay but with an additional 8 months in quazi. Now additionally she will be subjected by the community harassment for, rejecting the holy, religious Koran verdict and seeking some others’ overruling on a Muslim Gentle man. That defect alone in the system will encourage Quazi men to take money and support men.

  • 6
    1

    Just because SL system is slow, a faster process is not necessarily better.

    In some countries public beheadings and whippings are done very fast. is that what you want?

    I think we humans have a more complex personality. Not everything is measured by speed or brutality , especially justice.

    A woman going out of production surely in her sole decision-not some crazy man’s mania !

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