Thursday, July 15, 2010

Malaysia's 1st female Islamic court judges not allowed to hear divorces, moral crimes cases


Not so fast!!

When it was all going so well ~ though I thought what's the difference ~ it is the same restrictive law that forbids people from leaving Islam [an imprisonable offense in Malaysia] and also says that you need two women for every one man in front of the court ~ four in a case involving rape ~ just with a female judge ~ whoopi! I wished I could share in the excitement. But wait ~ true Islam is right around the corner ~ and it seems that the new female judges are barred from hearing moral and divorce cases!

In Saudi Arabia the women can practise law ~ but can't represent anyone in court. Well it is Malaysia truly Arabia!!



PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (CP)— Malaysia's first two female Islamic court judges will be barred from hearing cases involving divorce, an official said Wednesday, raising concerns that a more inclusive judiciary won't address complaints of discrimination against women.

The two female judges were appointed in May to combat perceptions that the Shariah courts unfairly favour men.

A panel of 20 top Shariah judges will meet this week to determine which cases the women judges can handle, but Islamic law provisions already forbid them from ruling on divorces and matters involving morality crimes, such as drinking and gambling, said Yusop Che Teh, a senior Shariah judge. He did not elaborate on the specific reasons.

Neither judge has handled any cases yet, but they are expected to be able to deal with disputes concerning alimony and property. The two judges said they would respect whatever the committee decides.

"This is a heavy responsibility entrusted by God and because of that, I will try my level best to execute my functions as under Shariah principles," Surayah Ramlee, 31, told a news conference.

Malaysia has a two-tier court system: Secular courts handle most criminal and civil cases, but on some issues, such as family disputes and so-called morality crimes, Muslims are subject to Shariah courts instead. Muslims make up nearly two-thirds of the country's 28 million people.

Women have complained they face discrimination in cases involving divorce, child custody rights, inheritance and polygamy in the Shariah courts.

Rights activists have said they receive hundreds of complaints each year that courts are slow to penalize ex-husbands who fail to pay child support. Men are also known to find it relatively easy to divorce their wives while taking a greater share of the couple's property.

Judge Rafidah Abdul Razak, 39, said she hopes to ensure justice for everyone, not based simply on gender.

"I don't see there is any distinction between me and other judges," Rafidah told reporters.
Yusop said the Islamic legal affairs departments hope to recruit more women officials.

"This shows the flexibility and fact that the Shariah courts in Malaysia do accept changes," Yusop said.

Female judges are common in Malaysia's secular courts, though most top posts are held by men.

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