18 February 2018
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  • » 01/25/2018, 15.40


    Muslim women in Colombo demand changes to Islamic marriage law

    Melani Manel Perera

    A silent protest is held in front of the Ministry of Justice, targeting polygamy, child brides, and divorce. In 2009 a reform committee was set up to look at Islamic marriage. Women seek “justice and equality".

    Colombo (AsiaNews) – A group of Muslim women on Monday stood in silent protest against the country’s Islamic marriage law which discriminates against women.

    Organised by the Muslims Personal Law Reforms Action Group (MPLRG), the rally was held in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, near the Ministry of Justice.

    Protesters urged Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorale to recognise their right to "justice and equality". They want the Ministry to update the status of a report on Islamic marriage that has been nine years in the making.

    Muslim marriage comes under the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act of 1956. The MPLRG complains that it "contains discriminatory and unfair provisions that affect Muslim women and girls".

    The law has no minimum age of marriage, includes unequal provisions and procedures for women to register marriage and divorce, and provides for unconditional polygamy.

    For decades Muslim women have protested against this unfair treatment, demanding changes to the law. Several government and independent commissions have been appointed to address the issue.

    Finally, in 2009, the Minister of Justice set up a 17-member committee to review the provisions deemed discriminatory and propose amendments to the law. However, so far nothing is known of what it has done.

    The MPLRG complains that "Muslim women continue to be regarded as second-class citizens, unequal to men in matters of marriage and family. Reform must ensure justice and dignity – starting with our homes and families."

    The group ends its statement by admitting that "the submission of the report by the Committee is just the start of the process of reform;” nevertheless, “we believe it will be a significant step towards progress on equality and justice for Muslim women.”

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    See also

    28/09/2013 MALAYSIA - ISLAM
    Malaysia rewards "model polygamy" that avoid family feuds
    To counter the increasing number of lawsuits filed by wives married to the same man , the government is launching a program that sponsors with money and public appearances men who keep peace in their house. Human rights activists : " They should think of eliminating gender discrimination ."

    15/02/2010 BANGLADESH
    Fighting polygamy: woman castrates husband, and then kills him
    With a kitchen knife, the woman cuts off her husband’s penis, then stabs him to death. His physical abuse and his decision to take a new wife drove her to such action. Polygamy is legal in Bangladesh but is a rapidly waning social practice. Only 10 per cent of men have more than one wife.

    18/04/2008 BANGLADESH
    Patriarchal culture ensnares the rights of Bangladeshi women
    The road toward equality of rights between women and men in Bangladesh seems to be still a long way off, and the goal is even farther after a committee of religious Muslims has asked the government to correct its policies in favour of women's emancipation "in the light of the Qur'an and of the Sunnah".

    08/09/2010 SRI LANKA
    Christian priests and laity in silent protest against Rajapaksa’s power
    Parliament begins debate on constitutional reforms that would increase presidential powers and allow the president to be re-elected for more than two mandates. Religious leaders, rights activists and opposition parties fear changes might spell the end to Sri Lankan democracy.

    21/11/2008 PAKISTAN
    Islamabad, law in parliament to give "equal" rights to women
    Today, the husband has much more extensive rights in the family. The council for Islamic ideology proposes innovations to permit the woman to ask for a divorce, and to preserve her property. But extremist groups accuse it of "creating confusion."

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