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Press Briefing on the Incest Case
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Sisters in Islam views with concern the prosecution for incest of a 17-year-old girl, by the Kelantan Syariah Court. There is an assumption here that the daughter, considered a minor under civil law, is a willing partner in committing the crime of incest.

The daughter initially pleaded not guilty and had defended herself. However, the next day, after a discussion with her mother via telephone during a break in the trial, she thereafter pleaded guilty to the charge of incest. The court bound her over to be of good behaviour for one year with her mother standing surety. Since her mother has failed to post the bond of $1,000, the girl was sentenced by the court and committed to a rehabilitation home for one year.

While we welcome the Court's use of its discretionary powers in not allowing the publication of the girl's name and its decision not to imprison the girl, Sisters in Islam would like to raise some issues of concern, socially and legally, in the handling of this case. Important issues which need to be considered:-

* Is the girl a victim or a willing partner in the commission of the crime of incest? What was the evidence that led to the assumption of guilt against the girl and the decision of the Syariah Court to prosecute her? Even if it was felt that the girl was a willing partner, due to her young age and the perpetrator was a figure of authority and control, questions should arise as to the voluntary nature of her act. She could have been a victim of child abuse, or she could have committed the act under duress or coercion by the father.

* What are the safeguards that exist to ensure that her guilty plea was indeed genuine? The fact that the girl had at first pleaded not guilty and then changed her plea after speaking to her mother by telephone, the fact that the girl was in tears after this conversation, that her mother was not in court to give her support, should raise some concern and questions about the circumstances of her guilty plea.

* Given the nature of the crime and the relationship involved, should the Court exercise its discretionary power and request for further information to ascertain if a charge should in the first place be made against the girl? Could the Court take the parties into chambers to discuss the matter and advise the prosecution to withdraw the charge or order that the girl be discharged after due advice?

* Conflict between two parallel legal systems: The girl is a minor under civil law (under 18 years of age). However, under syariah law she is considered a "baligh" (one who has attained the age of puberty) and therefore a "mukallaf", one who is of right mind and therefore able to distinguish between what is good and bad and therefore take responsibility for her actions. Under syariah law, once a girl begins menstruation, she is considered an adult and therefore liable to a prosecution for illicit sex. Today, a girl may reach puberty at nine years of age, but does that mean she is mature enough to be held responsible for her actions? Under civil law and in society's eyes, she is a mere child. What provisions exist under syariah law to protect the interest of children and young persons against crimes perpetrated by adults in positions of authority and control over their well-being?

* We welcome the court's willingness to apply its discretionary powers and consider the provisions provided in the civil law, more specifically the Juvenile Courts Act, 1947 (“JCA”) in respect of the non-publication of the girl’s name/identification (s. 5A of the JCA) and in binding her over to be in good behaviour for one year. We wished, however, that the court could also have used its discretionary powers in considering the girl a juvenile instead of an adult and accord her the procedures provided for under the JCA.

* In what way was the girl's interest protected in the handling of this case? Under the JCA (s. 10), such a case would be referred to a Probation Officer who would provide the Court with information as to the girl's general conduct, home surroundings, school record, medical history so as to enable the Court to deal with the case in the best interests of the juvenile. The Juvenile Court will also not hold a hearing without the report of the Probation Officer. Moreover, the court is assisted by two advisers, one of whom is a woman, whose duty it is to inform and advise the court with respect to any consideration affecting the punishment or other treatment of any child or young person brought before it (s. 4(2).

* Should the confession of a father to the crime of incest be used as a mitigating factor to prosecute the victim, a minor under the protection and control of an authority figure who is also the pepetrator of the crime? Even if there was overwhelming evidence against both the father and the daughter and the fact that the father admitted to the charges, the Syariah Court must give due consideration to the fact that the victim is the daughter and a minor.

* Given the reality of present day society where girls begin menstruation at a much younger age, shouldn't the religious authorities review the definition of “baligh” and the assumption of “mukallaf” to determine whether a young person can be held responsible for her actions. Even if the daughter in this case did consent to such an act incest, society would question the circumstances of her family life and relationship that could enable such an act to happen. These must be regarded as mitigating factors.


1. Kelantan Enakmen Keterangan Mahkamah Syariah 1991
(Kelantan Evidence Enactment of the Syariah Court, 1991)

2. Enakmen Kanun Jenayah Syariah, tahun 1985, Negeri Kelantan

(Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code Enactment 1985)

3. Enakmen Acara Jenayah Syariah No. 9/83, Negeri Kelantan

(Syariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 1983)

4. Akta Mahkamah Juvana 1947

(Juvenile Courts Act, 1947)

24 August 2001

The recent amendment to the Federal Constitution to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender poses a special challenge to the Syariah Court and the Islamic religion authorities in Malaysia to take steps to end all forms of discrimination against Muslim women in law and in practice, committed in the name of Islam.

The right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law and now the right to non-discrimination on the basis of gender are constitutional guarantees for all Malaysians to enjoy, Muslims and non-Muslims.

Sisters In Islam believes that nothing in these constitutional provisions conflict with Islam, a religion that upholds the principles of equality and justice for all.

In order to fulfil the demands of these constitutional guarantees, Sisters in Islam is launching a campaign to end the delays and injustice women suffer in the Syariah Courts in divorce proceedings.

This is a long standing problem and Muslim women today want this gross injustice and discrimination against them to end. We acknowledge that the Islamic Family Law in Malaysia enables women to get a divorce by ta'liq, and also provides for 12 different grounds to enable women to get a divorce by Fasakh.However, there are many shortcomings in the implementation of the law which contribute to the delays and injustice suffered by Muslim women. These include :

1. Gender bias in the attitude of the Court
While a man faces no obstacles in getting a divorce, the Court very often appears reluctant to grant a divorce to a woman without the agreement of her husbad, even though the grounds for divorce are clear. (see cases of Aida and Esah and Siti). When a woman initiates divorce, the Court seems over anxious to preserve the sanctity of the marriage, even though it has irrevocably broken down. This attitude, however, does not seem to cloud the court's judgement when a man initiates divorce.

2. Weaknesses in procedure
-Court's insistence on use of lawyers even though the law allows for women to represent themselves.
-Court's insistence on mediation, even though parties heve not been able to reach agreement through mediation.
-Court's insistence on husband's presence and allowing several postponements of cases because of husband's absence.

3. Counselling sessions
-Counselling session organised by the Religious Department (RD) are not mandatory under the law, but women are sometimes required to attend such sessions before their cases are heard in court, even in a case where the husband was violently abusive and had already been sentenced to imprisonment (see Esah's case).

4. Problems with lawyers.
Women sometimes receive unwarranted advice from their lawyers who tell them to go back to their husbands. Therefore, those women feel as though their own lawyers are on the husbands' side rather then on their side. Women also of face the problem of mounting legal fees when their cases are delayed. Women who cannot afford to hire the services of a private lawyer have to go to the Legal Aid Bureau (LAB) for help. The inadequate number of legal officers and staff at the LAB further aggravate the problem of backlog of cases and delays in the hearing of cases in court.

5. Lack of information
Women are often accused of being ignorant of their rights under the law, as well as being ignorant of the correct procedures in making their applications. Women cannot be expected to be aware of all the legal technicalities and the lack of information on certain basic procedures (filling the correct forms, etc) contributes to the delays.

6. Administrative weaknesses
Delays are also caused by administrative weaknesses e.g the difficulties in obtaining a copy of the marriage certificate required by the court before the case could be heard.

We acknowledge that various positive steps have been taken by the Syariah Judicial Department under Dato' Sheikh Ghazali, through the Practice Directions issued to the Syariah Courts to reduce the problem of delays. In particular Practice Direction No.2 of 2001 directs the mention of cases within 21 days after the case has been filed, and Practice Direction No.4 of 2001 directs that postponement should only be granted on reasonable grounds and that a date should be given for the next hearing. We are concerned, however, as to the proper implementation of these directions.

The following proposals are made with the hope that they will assist in overcoming or reducing the problems of delays in divorce proceedings.

Process and procedure

1. Uniform procedures in all Syariah Courts to overcome the problems and confusion caused by lack of uniformity.
2. Counselling sessions should be voluntary, not mandatory, and should be conducted by qualified and gender sensitive counsellors. Time limits of 3 to 6 months should be set.
3. Summary proceedings should be provided for in ta'liq cases, as they are provided for in talaq cases. In cases of discrepancy over evidence, the wife's solemn oath that the husband has breached any of the conditions in the marriage contract, should be sufficient for the judge to grant the divorce.
4. Divorce, once granted by a Syariah Court, should not be appealable. While a decision rejecting a divorce application may be appealed against, if a divorce has already been granted, then appealable issues should only relate to the question of ancillary reliefs.

Appointment of judges and officers

5. Increase the number of Syariah judges and court officers. Include the appointment of women as Syariah judges. Better incentives should be provided for these posts to attract more qualified persons.
6. Gender sensitisation courses to be conducted for Syariah Judges and court officers.

Legal counsel

7. Increase the number of officers at the Legal Aid Bureau.
8. Set up a body such as a Syariah Bar Council to monitor the Syariah lawyers and to provide an avenue to settle clients grievances.
9. Provide the space for Legal Aid Clinics to be set up at the court to assist women who are representing themselves.

We reiterate our hope that the recent amendment to the Federal Constitution will be a major step forward in the process to end all forms of discrimination against Muslim women in law and in practice, and to ensure the realization of the principles of equality and justice that is enshrined in the teaching of Islam.

Sisters In Islam
Memorandum Pembaharuan Proses Perceraian dan Tuntutan Sampingan Dalam Prosiding Mahkamah Syariah
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Dikemukakan pada tahun 2000
Hasil Projek Kajian Kes dan Pengalaman Wanita di Wilayah Persekutuan dan Selangor pada tahun 1999 oleh Sisters in Islam dengan kerjasama Pusat Khidmat Wanita Pertiwi (PKWP)

Memorandum ini adalah hasil daripada projek yang bertujuan untuk mengkaji prosiding dan pengalaman wanita Islam dalam proses peceraian serta tuntutan sampingan iaitu tuntutan nafkah isteri, mut’ah dan harta sepencaraian, serta juga hak jagaan, lawatan dan nafkah anak. Matlamat utama Sisters in Islam (SIS) ialah untuk memperkembangkan kefahaman Islam yang mengiktiraf kesaksamaan di antara kaum wanita dan lelaki berasaskan prinsip-prinsip keadilan yang termaktub dalam ajaran Islam.

Suatu usaha utama untuk mencapai matlamat tersebut ialah dengan mengenalpasti masalah-masalah yang boleh membawa kepada ketakadilan, misalnya masalah penangguhan kes, dan mengesyorkan pindaan dan pembaharuan kepada amalan dan prosedur undang-undang bagi menghapuskan ketakadilan dan melicinkan proses pentadbiran undang-undang keluarga Islam di negara ini.

Dalam kajian ini, pihak SIS dengan kerjasama Pusat Khidmat Wanita Pertiwi (PKWP) yang mengadakan khidmat nasihat bagi golongan ibu tunggal, telah melihat kepada pengalaman dan pandangan wanita dalam beberapa kes, terutamanya di Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur dan Selangor. Hampir 40 orang wanita telah ditemuduga dalam kajian ini, dan mereka termasuklah wanita yang pernah, dan juga wanita yang sedang, terlibat dalam proses perceraian dan tuntutan sampingan.

Laporan hasil kajian tersebut telah dibentangkan oleh pihak SIS dalam Bengkel Kajian Kes:Pengalaman Wanita dalam Prosiding Mahkamah Syariah (Tumpuan Utama kepada Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur dan Selangor) yang diadakan pada 13 dan 14 November 1999. Isu-isu yang dikemukakan telah dibincangkan pada Bengkel tersebut dan berbagai cadangan bagi cara penyelesaian dan pembaharuan telah disyorkan.

Dalam mengkaji dan membincangkan isu-isu yang dibangkitkan, pendekatan sosiologi juga digunakan kerana faktor manusia adakalanya lebih penting daripada undang-undang memandangkan manusialah yang melaksanakan undang-undang tersebut. Jika pelaksanaan undang-undang kurang berkesan oleh kerana faktor manusia, maka hasilnya tidaklah memuaskan walaupun jika undang-undang itu sendiri mungkin sudah cukup memuaskan. Tambahan pula kes-kes di bawah undang-undang keluarga melibatkan emosi manusia dan bukannya harta benda sahaja. Kajian kes tersebut adalah dibentangkan dari sudut pandangan terdekat dan kemusykilan pihak wanita itu sendiri untuk mencungkil fakta realiti hidup dan kesan pengalaman yang ditinggalkan kepada para wanita tersebut.

Realiti pengalaman wanita itu mungkin tidak digambarkan dalam laporan atau dokumen rasmi, misalnya catatan rasmi mungkin menyatakan keputusan telah tercapai melalui persetujuan bersama, tetapi sebenarnya wanita itu dalam keadaan tertekan semasa memberi persetujuaanya. Laporan rasmi juga mungkin menunjukkan bahawa pihak suami/bapa telah diperintahkan membayar nafkah bulanan, tetapi realitinya nafkah itu tidak pernah dibayar dan pihak isteri/ibu merasakan tidak mampu atau tidak terdaya untuk megambil tindakan selanjutnya untuk penguatkuasaan.

Memorandum ini adalah bertujuan untuk membawa perubahan yang memberangsangkan kepada pelaksanaan Undang-undang Keluarga Islam. Pembaharuan adalah amat diperlukan kerana terdapat banyak kemusykilan pihak wanita yang membawa kebimbangan bahawa terdapat bias atau prasangka yang wujud terhadap para wanita. Pembaharuan bolehlah diusahakan melalui “Penggalakan”, “Pencegahan”, “Pencelahan”, dan “Pemulihan”.

Kemusykilan yang disuarakan dan cadangan serta syor yang dikemukakan bolehlah dibahagikan kepada isu-isu utama yang berikut, iaitu mengenai:

· Perceraian;

· Nafkah Isteri, Mut’ah dan Harta Sepencarian;

· Jagaan, Lawatan dan Nafkah Anak,

Selain daripada itu, terdapat juga kemusykilan yang disuarakan dan cadangan serta syor yang dikemukakan mengenai

· Khidmat Guaman dan Pembelaan Diri, serta

· Pentadbiran dan Proses di Jabatan Agama dan Mahkamah,

dan juga pembaharuan dan kefahaman undang-undang serta kesedaran pada amnya.


I. Perceraian
1. Wanita yang memperolehi perceraian ta’liq

Terdapat banyak pandangan negatif dikemukakan, termasuklah bahawa sesi kaunseling membazirkan masa dan tidak memberi kesan positif, pentadbiran tidak cekap, proses perbicaraan panjang dan banyak penangguhan, adakala hakim tidak hadir, adakala peguam atau pihak suami tidak hadir, pihak mahkamah tidak menjalankan tanggungjawab dengan seadilnya, lebih memberi peluang atau meihak kepada lelaki.

Terdapat juga beberapa pandangan positif termasuklah proses perceraian berjalan dengan lancar apabila mahkamah tegas, kes memakan masa yang lama sebelum ke mahkamah tetapi tiada masalah setelah sampai ke mahkamah dan hakim memahani situasi isteri. Ada juga dikatakan bahawa proses tuntutan perceraian dilakukan dengan lebih cepat dan licin berbanding dengan tuntutan wang dan harta.

2. Wanita yang sedang dalam proses permohonan cerai (ta’liq atau fasakh)

Terdapat banyak pandangan dikemukakan, termasuklah bahawa sesi kaunseling tidak berkesan, hanya menyuruh isteri supaya lebih bersabar dan hanya memenuhi permintaan suami. Mengenai proses bagi pebicaraan pula, dikatakan terlalu rumit dan banyak dokumen yang perlu dikemukakan, seolah-olah hendak membuktikan kes jenayah.

Kerumitan proses menyebabkan terlalu lama kes berlanjutan dan dikatakan pihak mahkamah lebih memberatkan keterangan dari pihak suami dan isteri berasa teraniaya dengan tuduhan nusyuz yang sering dikemukakan. Kes juga dikatakan tertangguh dengan begitu lama, dengan mahkamah melebihkan lelaki daripada wanita dari segi peluang dan masa, dan kurang kerjasama daripada pihak Biro Bnatuan Guaman dalam usaha supaya kes dipanggil untuk dibicarakan di mahkamah.

3. Wanita dalam kes perceraian talaq atas kehendak suami

Terdapat banyak pandangan negatif dikemukakan, dengan dikatakan perceraian menjadi begitu mudah sekali termasuk perceraian tanpa saksi dan terdapat juga isteri yang diceraikan tanpa pengetahuannya. Perceraian tanpa pengetahuan isteri dikatakan suatu penganiayaan lebih-lebih lagi apabila surat cerai lambat diterima menyebabkan tuntutan mut’ah tertangguh. Terdapat juga isteri yang diceraikan walaupun bersetuju untuk berpoligami dan tidak minta untuk bercerai.

Perceraian dengan tuduhan isteri nusyuz juga dibenarkan dengan isteri diceraikan tanpa pengetahuannya, tanpa memanggil isteri dan tanpa perbicaraan. Hal-hal sedemikian menyebabkan ada wanita yang mengatakan tidak ada keadilan, tolak ansur dan perasaan timbang rasa antara pihak Jabatan Agama mahkamah dan memberi tanggapan bahawa Jabatan Agama dan pihak mahkamah berpihak kepada lelaki.

4. Wanita dalam kes perceraian atau pengesahan talaq melalui persetujuan bersama

Terdapat banyak pandangan negatif dikemukakan termasuklah bahawa proses kaunseling tidak memberi penjelasan mengenai soal dan hak suami isteri dalam perceraian, dan tidak berjaya kerana lebih memihak kepada suam, dengan isteri hanya disuruh bersabar.

Terdapat juga pihak wanita yang menyatakan bahawa persetujuan isteri ke atas syarat-syarat yang dikenakan oleh suami, misalnya untuk menggugurkan tuntutan kewangan, diperolehi semasa isteri dalam keadaan tertekan dan mahkamah tidak prihatin mengenai keadaan ini. Pihak mahkamah lebih suka menyuruh suami isteri mengadakan perbincangan di luar mahkamah sebelum proses perbicaraan dijalankan, dan hanya bersetuju dengan apa yang dibincangkan di luar mahkamah tanpa cuba masuk campur untuk menjaga kebajikan dan hak isteri dan menegakkan keadilan. Ini menyusahkan pihak isteri, terutamanya isteri yang tidak mengetahui haknya di dalam perceraian.

Kemusykilan juga disuarakan bahawa sekiranya lelaki yang inginkan perceraian, ia sangat mudah untuk diperolehi, akan tetapi, jika wanita yang menuntut cerai, adalah sesuatu yang sukar dicapai. Selagi suami tidak bersetuju dengan peceraian, mahkamah mengambil masa yang lama walaupun rumahtangga suami isteri tersebut tidak dapat diselamatkan lagi, dan ada saksi-saksi untuk menyokong kenyataan ini.

Pandangan positif yang dikemukakan ialah bahawa perceraian berjalan lancar sekiranya terdapat kerjasama suami dan persetujuan suami isteri telah diperolehi di luar mahkamah.

II. Nafkah isteri, mut’ah dan harta sepencarian
1. Masalah membuat tuntutan

Pandangan yang dikemukakan mengatakan terdapat banyak masalah dalam membuat tuntutan dan kurang keprihatinan dalam menjaga hak seseorang isteri yang mengakibatkan ketakadilan. Masalahnya termasuklah masalah membuat tuntutan berasingan misalnya tuntutan khusus untuk mut’ah dan harta sepencarian. Ada juga isteri yang dituduh materialistik kerana mengisi Borang Tuntutan untuk nafkah, mut’ah dan harta sepencarian walaupun Borang Tuntutan disediakan mengikut undang-undang dan isteri berhak membuat tuntutan tersebut. Suami sepatutnya bertanggungjawab dan tidak membuat tuduhan sedemikian. Terdapat juga tekanan oleh suami ke atas isteri yang menyebabkan isteri bersetuju tidak membuat tuntutan nafkah iddah, mut’ah dan harta sepencarian demi meperolehi persetujuan suami untuk perceraian.

2. Hak isteri yang diceraikan
Terdapat juga beberapa pandangan daripada pihak isteri yang diceraikan atas kehendak suami dan juga yang bercerai melaui persetujuan bersama bahawa kepentingan dan kebajikan isteri tidak dijaga mengenai hak yang mereka perolehi dalam perceraian. Terdapat tanggapan bahawa Jabatan Agama dan pihak mahkamah berpihak kepada lelaki dan mahkamah hanya menetapkan jumlah yang dipersetujui oleh suami tanpa cuba campurtangan untuk menegakkan keadilan.

Tuntutan untuk tunggakan nafkah isteri dikatakan hanya membuang masa dan tenaga, jumlah nafkah iddah dan mut’ah sangat rendah berbanding dengan jumlah yang dituntut, dan isteri disuruh jangan membebankan suami dengan meminta jumlah yang besar, padahal suami mampu berkahwin lain.

Walupun kebanykan pandangan yang disuarakan aalah pandangan negatif, terdapat juga sedikit pandangan positif daripada seorang isteri yang mendapat nafkah iddah dan mut’ah yang dituntut.

3. Tempoh membuat tuntutan
Tuntutan kewangan juga mengambil masa yang agak lama untuk selesai, dan walaupun kes perceraian selesai, soal wang dan harta belum selesai kerana perlu menunggu lepas iddah dan dapat surat cerai, maka barulah tuntutan seterusnya boleh dibuat. Pennagguhan kes yang mengambil masa yang lama juga membawa kepada masalah dalam bantuan guaman kerana peguam Biro sentiasa bertukar.

4. Beban pembuktian
Masalah mengenai beban pembuktian untuk menujukkan pendapatan dan kemampuan suami yang kerja sendiri juga dikemukakan. Terdapat suami yang memberi keterangan bahawa dia tidak ada harta walaupun dia sebenarnya memindah milik harta kepada keluarganya selepas tuntutan harta sepencarian dibuat. Terlalu banyak peluang dalam segenap sudut dikatakan diberikan kepada pihak lelaki, menyebabkan keputusan yang patut senang diperolehi mengambil masa yang begitu panjang, walaupun jelas kemampuan suami untuk memberi apa yang dituntut oleh isteri.

5. Masalah penguatkuasaan
Masalah mengenai penguatkuasaan pula ialah kurang ketegasan dalam mengeluarkan waran tangkap ke atas suami yang enggan menurut perintah mahkamah. Terdapat juga kes di mana walaupun waran tangkap dikeluarkan oleh mahkamah, ia tidak berkesan dan gagal menangani masalah suami yang melanggar perintah pihak mahkamah..

III. Jagaan, lawatan dan nafkah anak
Berbagai masalah dan kemusykilan disuarakan oleh pihak ibu tunggal mengenai soal berkaitan dengan jagaa, lawatan dan nafkah anak.

1. Hak jagaan

Ada wanita yang mengatakan persetujuannya untuk memberi hak jagaan anak kepada suami diperolehi semasa isteri dalam keadaan tertekan, hak lawatan ibu pula terlalu suntuk, dan fail baru perlu dibuka untuk meminta hak bemalamam. Ada kes yang ditangguhkan hingga hingga mengambil masa bertahun-tahun, akibatnya hubungan anak dan ibu menjadi renggang, dan anak tidak rapat atau mahu mengikut ibu lagi.

2. Hak lawatan
Ada juga wanita yang menyatakan mengalami kederitaan mental apabila anak-anak diambil oleh bapa yang menuduh ibu tidak layak menjaga anak kerana nusyuz. Terdapat suatu kes di mana mahkamah mengeluarkan perintah tegahan ex parte menghalang ibu melawat anak semasa dalam proses kes perceraian. Pihak suami telah meminta dan mendapatkan perintah ex-parte (satu pihak) di mahkamah dan pihak isteri langsung tidak tahu menahu tentang hal tersebut pada ketika itu.

Masalah ini menjadi lebih berat lagi kerana biasanya perintah ex parte terus berkuatkuasa sehingga mahkamah menyelesaikan segala tuntutan yang berkaitan dalam kes itu. Terdapat juga kes di mana mahkamah memberi hak lawatan kepada ibu, tetapi bapa tidak membenarkan ibu melawat anak.

Dalam kes anak di dalam jagaan ibu, dia dituduh menghina mahkamah kerana dikatakan tidak membenar bapa melawat anak padahal bapa yang dahulunya tidak berminat melawat anak dan tidak pernah membayar nafkah anak.

3. Nafkah anak
i. Bapa tidak membayar nafkah

Ada bapa yang dikatakan langsung tidak membayar nafkah anak, misalnya kes di mana perintah interim nafkah ditarik balik apabila bapa kata dia tidak mampu membayar nafkah tersebut, tanpa digantikan dengan peintah interim lain kalaupun jumlah hendak dikurangkan atas permohonan bapa. Ibu yang mendapat jagaan anak juga terpaksa membuka fail baru untuk tuntutan nafkah anak. Tuntutan nafkah anak tertangguh dengan begitu lama dan disebabkan lambatnya proses perbicaraan menyebabkan ibu tidak lagi mengambil kisah untuk meneruskan tuntutan.

ii. Jumlah nafkah tidak mencukupi
Terdapat keadaan di mana walaupun bapa membayar nafkah anak, jumlah itu dikatakan tidak mencukupi kerana tidak mendapat jumlah yang berpatutan untuk nafkah anak-anak, mahkamah hanya meluluskan jumlah nafkah yang dicadangkan oleh bapa tanpa cuba campurtangan untuk menjaga kebajikan anak, wang nafkah yang ditetapkan terlalu sedikit dan tidak cukup untuk pembiayaan anak, dan jumlah yang dibenarkan terlalu rendah berbanding dengan jumlah yang dituntut.

4. Masalah penguatkuasaan

Penguatkuasaan perintah nafkah dikatakan suatu masalah besar apabila bapa tidak bertanggungjawab. Ada kes di mana walaupun hakim menambah jumlah nafkah apabila ibu membuat permohonan nafkah anak, penguatkuasaannya tidak tegas dan bapa ingkar kepada perintah mahkamah. Terdapat kemusykilan mengapa tindakan tidak diambil walupun ibu membuat aduan bapa tidak membayar nafkah. Penguatkusaan tunggakkan nafkah anak juga tidak tegas walaupun bapa telah banyak kali tidak bayar nafkah bertahun-tahun. Pihak ibu terpaksa bersusah payah untuk berulang alik ke mahkamah untuk proses penguatkusaaan. Walaupun waran tangkap dikeluarkan, bapa pernah dapat melepaskan diri dengan membuat pembayaran nafkah separuh sahaja.

IV. Khidmat Guaman dan Pembelaan Diri

1. Masalah fee guaman
Telah didapati bahawa ramai para wanita tidak mampu membayar yuran peguam dan juga terdapat perbezaan besar di antara yuran yang dikenakan oleh peguam-peguam kerana bayaran tidak ditetapkan di antara satu peguam dan peguam yang lain.

Biasanya apa yang berlaku apabila kes cuba dikemukakan di mahkamah ialah pihak isteri akan menghadapi masalah dalam pembayaran fee guaman, kerana isteri kurang mampu dan bayaran yang dikenakan agak tinggi dan membebankan. Ini berpunca kerana:

· Tiada peraturan -- tidak ada badan yang menetapkan bayaran yuran yang disyorkan.

· Tiada skala ditetapkan -- tiada skala tetap yang dapat menentukan jumlah bayaran yang berpatutan dengan kemampuan para wanita.

2. Biro Bantuan Guaman
Biro Bantuan Guaman pula kurang kakitangan dan terlalu banyak kes dikendalikan oleh pihak Biro menyebabkan pihak yang mengguna khidmat Biro terpaksa menunngu masa yang lama sebelum kes dikemukakan di mahkamah.

3. Pembelaan Diri
Akibat daripada kurang kemampuan pihak isteri untuk memperolehi khidmat peguam, dan kekurangan kakitangan Biro Bantuan Guaman, ada di antara isteri yang membela diri sendiri di mahkamah. Pihak hakim mendapati hal ini melengahkan lagi proses perbicaraan kerana para wanita itu kurang memahami sepenuhnya bahawa undang-undang, kurang berpengetahuan mengenai prosedur mahkamah dan ini biasanya mengakibatkan penangguhan kes. Misalnya dalam suatu kes pihak isteri membuat permohonan perceraian di bawah seksyen 47 yang memerlukan persetujuan suami, dan tidak faham yang dia sepatutnya membuat permohonan untuk cerai fasakh. Wanita yang tidak mampu peguam dan tidak memahami proses mahkamah mugkin menyerah bulat-bulat kepada hakim untuk menyelesaikan kesnya.

V. Pentadbiran dan Proses di Jabatan Agama dan Mahkamah

1. Peringkat Jabatan dan Peringkat Mahkamah
Proses perceraian atas permohonan pihak isteri memakan masa yang lama dari masa aduan mula dibuat dan perbicaraan kes, dan oleh kerana banyak peringkat yang dilalui di bawah permohonan tersebut, terdapat juga kekeliruan di kalangan para wnita mengenai peringkat jabatan dan peringkat mahkamah, misalnya mengenai peringkat sesi kaunseling. Masalah kelewatan kes menjadi lebih ketara lagi kerana tiada had masa ditetapkan bagi tempoh kaunseling dan prosedur seterusnya dalam proses perceraian

2. Kekurangan kakitangan

Masalah kekurangan bilangan kakitangan Mahkamah Syariah adalah ketara apabila dibandingkan dengan kes yang makin bertambah setiap hari. Misalnya, bailif amat diperlukan kerana pendaftar juga dibebani dengan tugas bailif. Adakalanya pendaftar tiada di mahkmah dan jika seseorang ke mahkamah untuk mendapatkan pengesahan pendaftar bagi suatu afidavit, orang itu terpaksa berulang-alik ke mahkamah semata-mata untuk dokumen tersebut.


I. Perceraian
1. Perjanjian Ta’liq
Perjanjian Ta’liq perlu digubal semula demi menjaga kebajikan wanita. Di samping syarat-syarat asas yang dimasukkan dalam borang perjanjian ta’liq, syarat-syarat tambahan yang boleh dimasukkan atas pilihan pasangan-pasangan individu patutlah juga disediakan.

2. Bukti Perceraian Ta’liq

Jika suami telah melanggar perjanjian Ta’liq yang dibuat, maka apabila isteri menuntut Cerai Ta’liq tiada sebab mengapa pihak mahkamah masih membicarakan kes tersebut. Sepatutnya, hukuman dijatuhkan dan kes diselesaikan dengan secepat yang mungkin. Untuk perceraian Ta’liq, sepatutnya memadai dengan ada saksi yang menyatakan perjanjian ta’liq telah dilanggar, tidak perlu membawa banyak sangat bukti dan perbicaraan yang panjang kerana ia hanya membuang masa dan tenaga. Bukti dalam bentuk sumpah oleh pihak isteri dan dua orang saksi patutlah diterima sebagai mencukupi untuk menjatuhkan cerai Ta’liq.

3. Tuduhan nusyuz
Pihak mahkamah menyebelahi lelaki -- mahkamah sepatutnya lebih teliti dalam sesuatu kes dan tidak menerima pernyataan suami secara menyeluruh, contohnya, dalam soal nusyuz, hakim tidak patut menerima apa sahaja tuduhan yang lemparkan oleh pihak suami -- berkemungkinan isteri bertindak sedemikian atas alasan yang kukuh. Sikap prasangka terhadap wanita dalam soal nusyuz di mana nusyuz diberatkan ke atas wanita dan tidak pula kepada lelaki patutlah dihapuskan. Pendekatan tersebut perlulah diubah. Al-Qur’an ada menyebut nusyuz di dalam konteks suami dan isteri tetapi di dalam undang-undang keluarga Islam di Negeri Selangor, nusyuz hanya wujud untuk pihak isteri sahaja.

4. Perceraian oleh suami di luar mahkamah

Sebahagian besar perceraian atas kehendak suami berlaku di luar mahkamah. Denda RM1000 bukanlah suatu pencegahan bagi perceraian yang berlaku di luar mahkamah kerana boleh dibayar dengan mudah oleh para pesalah. Keperluan kebenaran dari mahkamah untuk berpoligami juga bukanlah suatu pencegahan untuk pihak lelaki yang berniat untuk berpoligami, dan poligami yang tidak bertanggungjawab merupakan suatu punca utama masalah keruntuhan rumahtangga. Cara pencegahan yang lebih berkesan, seperti mengenakan hukuman penjara mandatori, diperlukan bagi menghalang poligami tanpa kebenaran mahkamah dan perceraian di luar mahkamah.

5. Keganasan suami
Dalam kes yang melibatkan keganasan suami terhadap isteri, mahkamah perlu membenarkan perceraian seberapa cepat yang boleh kerana nyawa isteri terancam jika masih bersama suami.

II. Nafkah Isteri, Mut’ah dan Harta Sepencarian

1. Menunggu proses perceraian

Dicadangkan supaya kaveat (bagi hartanah) dan perintah tegahan (bagi harta lain) untuk melindungi kepentingan isteri dan menghalang suami daripada memindahmilik harta benda semasa menunggu penyelesaian proses perceraian.

2. Tuntutan berasingan dan pencatuman tuntutan

Tuntutan-tuntutan tunggakan nafkah isteri, nafkah iddah, mut'ah dan harta sepencarian – tuntutan yang jumlahnya tidak melebihi RM100,000 mungkin lebih baik dicantumkan tetapi jumlah yang melebihi RM100,000 mungkin lebih baik diasingkan kerana bidangkuasanya di Mahkamah Tinggi Syariah. Dicadangkan supaya isteri diberi pilihan sama ada hendak mengasingkan atau mencaantumkan tuntutan.

3. Nafkah isteri dan nafkah iddah

i. Nafkah isteri

Tunggakan nafkah isteri yang tidak dibayar semasa perkahwinan perlu ditekankan.. Dicadangkan diadakan ukuran untuk tunggakan nafkah isteri pada skala tidak kurang daripada kadar satu pertiga (1/3) pendapatan suami.

ii. Nafkah iddah

Nafkah iddah hanya untuk tempoh 3 bulan 10 hari sahaja Bagi nafkah iddah, hukum syara memerintahkan supaya isteri dalam tempoh iddah sepatutnya masih menikmati taraf hidup yang sama seperti dam tempoh perkahwinan. Oleh kerana pada hakikatnya, isteri mengalami perbelanjaan yang lebih dalam tempoh iddah kerana perlu mencari tempat tinggal baru, dan nafkah iddah hanyalah untuk tempoh yang terhad, dicadangkan supaya skala nafkah iddah lebih tinggi daripada skala tunggakan nafkah isteri, iaitu pada kadar tidak kurang daripada separuh (1/2) pendapatan suami.

4. Mut’ah

i. Mas kahwin dan hantaran

Tiada ukuran maksimum tetapi sepatutnya ada ukuran minimum tidak kurang daripada mas kahwin dan hantaran. Sebaliknya, bayaran kepada suami dalam cerai khulu’ sepatutnya tidak melebihi jumlah maskahwin dan hantaran.

ii. Kemampuan suami dan tempoh perkahwinan

Kemampuan pihak suami suatu faktor utama untuk menentukan jumlah mut’ah. Di samping itu, tempoh perkahwinan juga patut diambil kira dalam menentukan jumlah mut’ah. Di Singapura dan Iran, mut’ah adalah berasaskan tempoh perkahwinan. Di Mesir juga, tempoh perkahwinan merupakan suatu faktor yang mempengaruhi jumlah mut’ah.

5. Harta sepencarian

Sumbangan para isteri perlu ditekankan – ada isteri yang memberi lebih sumbangan kerana sumbangannya merangkumi sumbangan kewangan serta juga sumbangan kerja rumah.

i. Pembahagian sepertiga kepada isteri

Pembahagian satu pertiga kepada pihak isteri dan dua pertiga kepada pihak suami patutlah terpakai kepada kes di mana isteri tidak memberi sumbangan kewangan dan hanya memberi sumbangan dalam bentuk menemani suami dan menjaga rumahtangga dan keluarga.

ii. Pembahagian sama rata

Dalam kes di mana isteri juga memberi sumbangan kewangan, atau harta itu telah didaftarkan dalam kedua-dua nama suami isteri, pada amnya pembahagian patutlah sama rata antara suami isteri.

iii. Pembahgian lebih separuh kepada isteri

Malah isteri yang menunjukkan bahawa dia memberi lebih sumbangan daripada suami, misalnya dengan memberi sumbangan kewangan dan juga menjaga rumahtangga, patutlah diberi bahagian yang lebih daripada separuh harta sepencarian itu.

6. Pembuktian pendapatan dan harta

Dicadangan proses mahkamah secara automtaik bagi mendapatkan slip gaji, penyata KWSP, penyata cukai pendapatan yang boleh memberi maklumat kepada mahkamah tentang kedudukan kewangan pihak suami, cabutan hak milik hartanah, akaun bank, sijil saham, kad kredit, insuran nyawa, rekod JPJ tentang pemilikan kenderaan dan lain-lain dokumen mengenai sumber pendapatan dan harta benda.

Mahkamah juga perlu prihatin mengenai pindahmilik harta yang dilakukan bagi mengelakkan tuntutan harta sepencarian dan mengenepikan pindahmilik sedemikian.

7. Masalah tekanan atas isteri untuk tidak membuat tuntutan

Mahkamah perlu bersikap sensitif dan hendaklah mengambilkira keadaan isteri yang tidak membuat tuntutan. Isteri sepatutnya dibenarkan membuat tuntutan semula di mahkamah walaupun pada asalnya dia bersetuju tidak akan membuat apa-apa tuntutan. Mahkamah perlu menyedari dan menerima penerangan isteri yang pada masa itu, dia mungkin berada di dalam keadaan yang tertekan. Latihan “gender sensitisation” perlu untuk menimbulkan kesedaran pihak mahkamah.

8. Masalah penguatkuasaan

Cadangan-cadangan bagi masalah penguatkuasaan ada dinyatakan dalam bahagian seterusnya, iaitu berhubungan dengan masalah penguatkuasaan nafkah anak.

III. Jagaan, Lawatan dan Nafkah Anak

1. Jagaan

Mahkamah perlulah mengikut apa yang dikatakan dalam undang-undang jika peruntukan undang-undang itu jelas. Jika budi bicara diperlukan, mestilah mengambil kira kepentingan anak. Ada kalanya anak-anak terpisah antara satu sama lain kerana mahkamah membahagikan hak jagaan di antara ibu dan bapa. Dalam keadaan sedemikian hak lawatan perlulah diatur dengan cara sebaiknya supaya adik beradik itu boleh meluangkan masa bersama.

2. Lawatan

Terdapat juga bapa yang tidak pernah kenal anak pada mulanya, kemudian pula memohon hak lawatan apabila anak sudah besar. Setiap ibu dan bapa memanglah patut diiktiraf mempunyai hak lawatan terhadap anaknya yang tidak boleh diketepikan sekalipun salah satu pihak dikategorikan sebagai “jahat”. Dalam hal keadaan bapa yang dahulu tidak langsung kenal anak (dan dengan itu anak tidak senang dengan bapanya) atau bapa yang dikhuatiri menganiayai anak -- di atas prinsip tidak mahu menidakkan hubungan anak dan bapa, mahkamah patutlah memerintahkan lawatan yang diselia (supervised visit).

3. Nafkah anak

i. Prosedur segera diperlukan

Masalah prosedur berasingan atau sekaligus – dicadangkan nafkah anak hendaklah segera diperintahkan dalam prosiding perceraian sama ada cerai talaq, ta’liq, fasakh atau khulu’.Nafkah anak adalah hak anak dan perlulah diutamakan dengan tidak mengira jenis perceraian di antara ibu bapa mereka atau peringkat proses perceraian itu – anak mesti mendapat nafkah daripada bapanya.

ii. Harta dan obligasi bapa

Masalah bapa menukar hakmilik harta atau memberi alasan tiada wang kerana obligasi hutang/pinjaman jangka panjang – dicadangkan diadakan peruntukan undang-undang yang memberikuasa kepada mahkamah untuk menghalang bapa menukar milik harta, dan peruntukan undang-undang yang menghadkan jenis-jenis dokumen yang boleh dijadikan bukti mengenai keberhutangan pihak bapa dan tidak menerima perakuan bapa itu sahaja.

iii. Jumlah nafkah
Kepentingan anak perlu diutamakan – jumlah nafkah mestilah menggambarkan kepentingan anak – dicadangkan dikeluarkan pekeliling kehakiman yang menggariskan quantum minimum bagi nafkah anak dan mengarahkan supaya mengambilkira keperluan istimewa pihak anak (misalnya keadaan kesihatan), jika ada.

iv. Perintah nafkah terhadap saudara sebelah bapa

Sekiranya pihak bapa tidak dapat dikesan atau tidak membayar nafkah anak atau tidak membayar nafkah secukupnya, mengeluarkan perintah terhadap saudara sebelah bapa seperti datuk atau bapa saudara anak itu.

4. Masalah penguatkuasaan

Masalah suami atau bapa seringkali engkar membuat bayaran di bawah perintah mahkamah – justeru itu perlu meningkatkan kecekapan prosiding penghinaan mahkamah, misalnya dengan –

· kerjasama pihak polis

· membawa prosiding melalui acara jenayah – mungkin lebih berkesan daripada melalui acara mal – mengeluarkan perintah untuk hukuman penjara kerana menghina mahkamah dengan mengingkari perintah nafkah, misalnya hukuman mandatori minimum tujuh hari sekiranya tidak membayar nafkah selama tiga bulan

· mengatur hubungan dengan mahkamah negeri lain untuk penguatkuasaan jika bapa lari atau berpindah keluar bidangkuasa mahkamah

· mengeluarkan perintah potongan gaji atau potongan pencen

· mengeluarkan perintah membekukan wang KWSP atau tabung pencen untuk disalurkan bagi pembayaran nafkah isteri dan anak– ini mungkin memerlukan pindaan kepada undang-undang atua peraturan KWSP. Amalan sebgini telah dipraktikkan di Singapura

· membawa prosiding kebankrapan untuk mengisytihar bapa sebagai bankrap

· menubuh agensi penguatkuasaan khas nafkah anak seperti di Britain (Child Support Agency) (bagi penyelesaian jangka panjang). Agensi ini berfungsi sebagai pemerhati terhadap bapa dalam soal pembayaran nafkah terhadap anak.

IV. Khidmat Guaman dan Pembelaan Diri

1. Peguam
i. Kelayakan peguam

Kelayakan guaman bagi peguam syarie perlu dipertingkatkan sejajar untuk meningkatkan kualiti terhadap perundangan Syariah itu sendiri. Asas-asas tertentu perlu ditetapkan agar setaraf dengan kelayakan peguam sivil. Di samping pengetahuan mengenai hukum syara’ peguam syarie juga perlu mendalami pegetahuan mengenai prosedur mahkamah yang tepat seperti peguam sivil.

ii. Majlis Peguam (Bar Council)

Bagi peguam syarie yang juga bertauliah sebagai peguam sivil, dicadangkan segala aduan hendaklah dibuat kepada Bar Council. Disyorkan agar bidangkuasa diberikan kepada Bar Council untuk mengendalikan peguam syarie dengan memperbaiki Akta Profesion Undang-Undang (Legal Profession Act) untuk merangkumi peguam syarie.

Bagi tempoh jangka panjang, mengesyorkan agar ditubuhkan Majlis Peguam Syarie seperti Bar Council untuk semua peguam syarie.

iii. Jawatankuasa Peguam Syarie dan Lesen Peguam

Megesyorkan agar peraturan-peraturan Jawatankuasa Peguam Syarie mengenai kelayakan peguam syarie serta mengenai pemberian, pembaharuan dan pembatalan lesen bagi menjalankan amalan guaman perlu diselenggarakan di setiap negeri dan diselaraskan pada peringkat semua negeri.

iv. Akaun klien

Mengesyorkan agar peguam syarie menjalankan amalan mereka sama seperti peguam sivil di mana mereka mesti menyimpan akaun klien mereka dan audit dijalankan bagi akaun tersebut. Dengan itu, di mana didapati peguam syarie yang tidak amanah dalam menyimpan akaun tesebut, lesen mereka tidak akan diperbaharui.

v. Fee Guaman

Dicadangkan penyelerasan fee guaman, misalnya bagi deposit untuk membuka fail dan pendaftaran kes, dan pembayaran seterusnya berdasarkan perjalanan atau peningkatan sesuatu kes.

2. Biro Bantuan Guaman
Biro Bantuan Guaman perlu menambahkan kakitangan dan mempertingkatkan mutu perkhidmatan supaya dapat menjalankan tugas dengan sebaik mungkin dan tidak melambatkan sesuatu kes.

3. Pembelaan Diri

i. Wanita yang membela diri
Pihak wanita yang tidak mampu mengguna khidmat peguam dan oleh itu membuat pembelaan diri perlulah diberi panduan mengenai soal undang-undang dan prosedur supaya tidak membuat kesilapan yang ketara. Kaedah mahkamah haruslah juga dipermudahkan melalui pindaan atau pembaharuan undang-undang dan prosedur supaya tidak terlalu teknikal dan menyusahkan pihak yang mewakili diri sendiri.

ii. Bimbingan kakitangan mahkamah

Kakitangan mahkamah perlulah memberi bimbingan mengenai prosedur mahkamah seperti dalam pengisian borang, memberitahu sama ada sesuatu tarikh yang ditetapkan itu tarikh sebutan atau perbicaraan, sama ada perlu membawa saksi atau tidak, sama ada saksi lelaki atau perempuan, dan pada amnya memastikan proses boleh berjalan dengan lancar. Bimbingan mengenai prosedur mahkamah yang disyorkan ini tidak bermakna memihak kepada mana-mana pihak dalam kes itu.

iii. Klinik Guaman di Mahkamah

“Muslim Lawyers Association” bersedia meletakkan peguam pelatih (chambering student) bagi perkhidmatan Klinik Guaman di Mahkamah Syariah untuk ditugaskan memberi panduan dan menolong menerangkan prosedur mahkamah. Kerjasama pihak berkuasa mahkamah diperlukan untuk membenarkan tempat ruang pejabat digunakan untuk memberi khidmat ini.

V. Pentadbiran dan Proses di Jabatan Agama dan Mahkamah

1. Kaunseling

Kaunseling adalah proses cuba menyelamatkan perkahwinan. Kaunseling mestilah secara sukarelawan, dijalankan oleh kaunselor yang bertauliah di dalam tempoh yang terhad, iaitu 3 hingga 6 bulan. Laporan hendaklah diberi kepada Pejabat Agama untuk menyatakan sama ada pihak suami isteri bersetuju untuk menghadiri sesi kaunseling atau tidak. Ini adalah supaya bagi mereka yang tidak mahu hadir untuk sesi kaunseling, kes boleh dibawa terus ke mahkamah.

Kaunseling adalah peraturan yang ditetapkan oleh Pejabat Agama dan tidak termaktub di dalam undang-undang. Pengesahan perceraian yang berlaku di luar mahkamah tidak perlu melalui sessi kaunseling. Cadangan juga dibuat supaya unit khas kaunseling diletakkan di bawah Mahkamah Syariah itu sendiri.

2. Mediation

Bagi perkahwinan yang tidak boleh diselamatkan lagi, mediation (pengantaraan) patut dijadikan sesuatu yang wajib dalam prosedur perceraian. Proses mediation dalam masa yang ditetapkan, (misalnya antara 3 hingga 6 bulan) mestilah dikendalikan oleh peguam atau orang terlatih yang berusaha membawa kedua-dua pihak yang terlibat dalam proses perceraian bersetuju mengenai tuntutan masing-masing, atau sekurang-kurangnya mengurangkan perbezaan dan isu-isu yang perlu dibicarakan di mahkamah.. Konsep mediation mestilah difahami, ia adalah untuk menjalankan perceraian dengan cara yang ma’ruf dan baik. Pengantara hendaklah adil, faham hak wanita dan lelaki dalam perceraian, dan arif dalam undang-undang keluarga.

3. Tempoh masa dan penyelenggaraan prosedur

i. Proses mahkamah

Jangkamasa tertentu perlu ditetapkan bagi sesuatu prosedur yang perlu dilalui dalam proses mahkamah agar kes tidak tertangguh begitu lama. Mahkamah perlu ada sistem pengurusan yang lebih cekap dan kemaskini bagi meyelesaikan kes dengan cepat. Pendaftaran kes sepatutnya tidak mengambil masa lebih daripada 21 hari sebelum kes dipanggil.

Dicadangkan penyelarasan beberapa prosedur dibuat melalui Pekeliling Kehakiman (Judicial Circular) misalnya mengenai pengeluaran perintah interim, saksi-saksi yang boleh diterima, tempoh memberi keputusan dan sebagainya.

ii. Pengurusan kes

Dalam pengurusan kes, Mahkamah Syariah boleh mengambil amalan terbaik "best practice" dari Mahkamah Sivil, mengenai jangka waktu yang akan diambil dalam sesuatu kes, berapa orang saksi yang akan dipanggil ke mahkamah, apakah dokumen yang akan dibentangkan dsb. Ini dapat mengesyorkan supaya kes tidak akan berlarutan dan tumpuan tepat diberikan kepada isu-isu utama dalam kes tersebut.

Sekiranya satu pihak masih tidak hadir di mahkamah walaupun saman telah disampaikan, tindakan hendaklah diambil dengan mengeluarkan waran tangkap dan/atau membuat keputusan penghakiman ingkar (judgment in default).

Prosedur mahkamah perlu dimantapkan. Bagi kes yang perlu diselesaikan segera, adakan “certificate of ungency”seperti diamalkan di Mahkamah Sivil. Ia patut diadakan untuk mengadili kes-kes seperti ta’liq, nafkah dan kes-kes yang memerlukan tindakan cepat. Perintah interim perlu dikeluarkan untuk nafkah isteri dan anak, terutama sekali untuk nafkah anak, dan perintah interim memanglah diperuntukkan dalam undang-undang. Undang-undang yang ada pada masa kini mungkin memadai tetapi perlaksanaan undang-undang tersebut tidak memadai.

iii. Perintah ex parte

Dengan mengikit “amalan terbaik’ mahkamah sivil, perintah yang dikeluarkan atas permohonan satu pihak (ex parte) patutlah luput selepas 14 hari dan kedua-dua pihak mesti membuat perrnohonan inter parties selepas itu. Buat masa kini, perintah ex parte di dalam Mahkamah Syariah tidak mempunyai masa luput dan perintah akan luput hanya bila kes yang berkaitan telah selesai. Dengan penetapan tempoh 14 hari tersebut, maka kedua-dua pihak boleh membuat permohonan antara pihak (inter parties) dan dengan itu, sekaligu keadilan bagi pihak-pihak terlibat lebih terpelihara.

iv. Keputusan hakim

Adalah di bawah bidangkuasa hakim untuk memberi keputusan apabila beliau telah bersedia untuk membuat keputusan tersebut. Yang Arif Tuan Haji Mohd. Na'im menyatakan bahawa di dalam mahkamah beliau, beliau akan membuat keputusan di dalam masa dua minggu dan bagi kes-kes yang lurus, beliau akan membuat keputusan pada ketika itu j'uga. Di Mahkamah Sivil iaitu dalam Sessions Court keputusan biasanya diberikan terlebih dahulu dan alasan-alasan penghakiman (grounds of judgement) diberikan kemudian.

Setelah draf perintah dikeluarkan, ia patulah ditandatangani oleh pendaftar dalam tempoh tidak melebihi satu minggu. Catatan keterangan prosiding mahkamah patutlah disediakan dalam tempoh tidak melebih sebulan dan tidak patut ditangguhkan sehingga memakan masaa bertahun.

4. Pentadbiran Mahkamah

i. Taraf mahkamah

Mahkamah Syariah perlu ditingkatkan supaya setaraf dengan Mahkamah Sivil. Bagi tempoh jangka panjang, dicadangkan diwujudkan Mahkamah Keluarga iaitu Mahkamah Keluarga Syariah dan Mahkamah Keluarga Sivil yang selari dan setaraf.

ii. Penambahan bilangan hakim

Bagi menambah bilangan hakim di Mahkamah Syariah, insentif yang menarik perlu diberikan agar lebih ramai orang yang bertauliah dengan kelayakan tinggi dan pengalaman sesuai ingin menjadi hakim, supaya dapat melantik hakim generasi baru yang lebih mahir termasuk hakim wanita. Sekiranya jawatan adalah tinggi bagi hakim Mahkamah Syariah (pendapatan tinggi, faedah dan manfaat yang setaraf dengan hakim Mahkamah Sivil), ini bolehlah menjadi insentif. Buat masa kini, hakim Mahkamah Syariah tidak dapat taraf yang sama dengan hakim Mahkamah Sivil dari segi pengiktirafan, pendapatan, faedah dan manfaat. Status Mahkamah Syariah perlu diangkat agar memperolehi keyakinan daripada berbagai pihak sebagai tempat yang menjunjung keadilan.

iii. Penambahan kakitangan

Di samping menambah bilangan hakim, adalah juga perlu untuk mewujudkan jawatan baru serta menaikkan pengambilan bilangan pegawai dan kakitangan sokongan untuk membantu proses Mahkamah Syariah berjalan dengan lebih cepat dan cekap. Jawatan baru seperti pegawai penyelidik (research officer) patut diwujudkan. Jawatan bailif perlu diasingkan dari jawatan pendaftar.

Di antara perbezaan Mahkamah Syariah dan Mahkamah Sivil ialah hakim Mahkamah Tinggi Sivil diberi seorang penyelidik untuk menolong mendapatkan fail-fail, dokumen-dokumen dan maklumat perundangan yang berkenaan dengan kes jadi keputusan mahkamah dapat diberikan dengan lebih cekap. Tetapi hakim Mahkamah Tinggi Syariah terpaksa membuat semua penyelidikan sendiri kerana tiada peruntukan bagi jawatan penyelidik

iv. Latihan pegawai

Untuk menaikkan status mahkamah, latihan pegawai mahkamah juga perlu ditingkatkan Latihan kepada pegawai mahkamah tidak sahaja tertumpu kepada aspek khusus undang-undang tetapi juga perlu emasukkan elemen “sensitisation” terhadap faktor psiko-sosiologi dalam masalah rumah tangga. Latihan itu juga patulah merangkumi latihan mengenai keprihatinan gender atau "gender sensitisation", misalnya seperti yang terkandung dalam kursus latihan syariah di institut di Indonesia.

v. Peruntukan belanjawan

Peruntukan belanjawan yang lebih tinggi perlu untuk menambah bilangan hakim dan kakitangan, bagi meninggikan taraf mahkamah syariah dan mengadakan latihan bagi meningkatkan kecekapan mahkamah. Dicadangkan supaya pihak berkuasa memperuntukkan wang denda yang dikenakan oleh Mahkamah Syariah sebagai hasil (revenue) untuk menampung kekurangan bagi perbelanjaan mahkamah.

vi. Penyelarasan bidangkuasa dan kerjasama dengan agensi lain

Oleh kerana bidangkuasa negeri tidak merangkumi negeri-negeri lain merumitkan masalah perlaksanaan perintah mahkamah di negeri lain, disyorkan supaya perlu diadakan penyelesaian segera masalah penyelarasan bidangkuasa antara negeri, supaya perintah nafkah yang dikeluarkan oleh Mahkamah Syariah sesuatu negeri boleh dikuatkuasakan secara automatik di negeri yang lain.

Di samping itu, perlulah juga ada penyelarasan dan kerjasama dengan pihak polis supaya bertindak membantu mahkamah dalam masalah tersebut.

Pembaharuan undang-undang dan prosedur

Bagi pihak SIS, pembaharuan yang disyorkan mengenai undang-undang dan prosedur mahkamah dalam memorandum ini adalah dibuat berlandaskan hukum syara’, seperti juga pembaharuan yang disyorkan dalam dua memorandum mengenai pembaharuan undang-undang keluarga Islam di negara ini yang telah dikemukakan kepada pihak berkuasa pada tahun 1997.

Suatu perkara yang merumitkan pelaksanaan undang-undang keluarga Islam di Malaysia dan penguatkuasaan perintah Mahkamah Syariah ialah bidangkuasa berasingan dan undang-undang Syariah yang tidak selaras di antara negeri-negeri. Justeru itu, perlulah diambil tindakan dan susulan yang sepatutnya untuk menjamin kelancaran kerja pihak mahkamah.

Sisters In Islam
Memorandum on ISA Arrest of Shi'ah Followers
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20 February 2001

YAB Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
Minister of Home Affairs
Kompleks Jabatan Perdana Menteri
Aras 4, Blok Barat
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Perseketuan
62502 Putrajaya

Dear YAB Datuk Seri,

It has come to our attention that six Shi'ah followers have been detained under the Internal Security Act since October 2000. Two have been released while one was released conditionally. Out of the remaining four, three have been sent to Kamunting detention centre while one is undergoing the initial sixty-day detention period.

First, we are very concerned that the Government has chosen to use the ISA to arrest the six for whatever offence they might have committed. The ISA, which provides for detention without trial, is a draconian law that infringes the fundamental liberties of a citizen in a democratic state. The Government should be working towards the repeal of the law, instead of continuing with its use.

Second, if indeed the Shi'ah men have committed any offence, they should be charged and tried in open court, in accordance with the rule of law. Instead a shroud of secrecy and silence surrounds the case. A grave injustice has been done to the men and their families who are not aware what offences their loved ones were supposed to have committed.

Third, if the detention of the Shi'ah followers was just for being Shi'ahs, then this constitutes an infringement of Article 11 of the Federal Constitution which guarantees freedom of religion.

Fourth, the Shi'i mazhab is a recognised school of law in Islam with hundreds of millions of followers, and in some countries they constitute a majority. Does the Government intend to pronounce all Shi'ahs a threat to national security and that Shi'ism is a deviationaist school of thought?

Fifth, for the state to claim the power to judge the faith, beliefs and views of its citizens is a dangerous exercise of state power. In the past, such power has led the state to persecute Abu Hanifa who founded the Hanafi mazhab, Ibn Hanbal who founded the Hanbali mazhab, Ibn Rushid, the philosopher and jurist, and Ibn Taymiyah, the influential thinker. They and other outstanding scholars of Islam were persecuted, some tortured, imprisoned and even executed for views now accepted by the vast majority of Muslims, including Malaysians.

Sixth, for the state to assume the power to judge on a citizen's personal faith is for Sunni rulers to condemn Shi'ah Muslims as heretics, and for Shi'ah rulers to condemn Sunni Muslims as heretics. The outcome depends on who is in political power. This is dangerous, in particular in countries where religion is used to serve the cause of political ideology or to serve political ends of partisan party politics, as the case is in Malaysia.

Seventh, freedom of religion, expression, and association are fundamental rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Those who hold controversial views which are rejected by the established theological or political order or even the public at large, must be protected as long as they do not engage in criminal activities and their actions do not violate the rights of others nor undermine the principles of the rule of law. Any charge of a threat to national security or public order must be proven in an open and fair trial, according to the rule of law.

We sincerely hope you will look into the issues raised above closely and seriously. Our proud history of pluralism, tolerance and understanding and our traditional celebration of this outstanding Malaysian heritage is at stake. Yours sincerely,

Zainah Anwar
Executive Director
Sisters in Islam
Resolutions for one and all - The Star - Musings
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Malaysians from the famous to the not so famous and the man in the street ought to resolve this year to making the country be a better place for all. Here are some suggestions.

IT’S the New Year and, as with convention, we should really make resolutions, even though the chances of keeping them are slim.

I get more half-hearted about making them each year although my list nowadays tends to be short and realistic, with a 50% chance of being kept.

I do however like to indulge in making lists for other people.

For my children, I wish they would resolve to work harder at school and be tidier. For my colleagues and friends, I wish that they (and I) could brush aside small problems and concentrate on the big ones.

Needless to say, I can’t help but wish for resolutions from our various public figures, particularly those in government. Here’s a list, in no particular order.

I wish that our Government would resolve to:

1. Slap down rather than merely slapping the wrists of those public figures and politicians who misbehave. Just say “that’s nonsense and we won’t stand for it!” rather than the wishy-washy “we must investigate” reaction. Or worse still, complete silence.

2. Stop twisting words in order to spin what’s wrong into what’s right.

3. Stop using simpering journalists to interview politicians because they do a great job of convincing the public that both they and their interviewees are nothing but idiots.

4. Stop demonising people who are critical and calling them traitors when they probably love their country more than most.

5. Stop being afraid of those who think that getting ahead means getting handouts for everything in the belief that this will let them stand tall.

6. Do the right thing even when it may make them unpopular for a while. Ban plastic bags. Push for safer sex. Outlaw child marriages.

7. Remind some people that they are paid by taxpayers to do their job and that does not entitle them to act as if they are God’s representatives on earth.

8. In fact, I truly wish we could just forget about having to use taxpayers’ money to pay anyone who is likely to believe they are God’s representatives on earth.

9. Allow more consultation with people on the ground who know what communities need for their own development. Maybe have a policy that ensures that absolutely nobody is marginalised for any reason.

10. Overhaul the entire education system to make it more open, democratic, and at par with the best in the world. And completely eradicate politics from it.

11. Make sports and the arts as important as economic development because we need to have a country with soul.

12. Ban the habit of giving titles to sports, arts and entertainment figures until they’re at least 50 or have had significant achievements in their field for a number of years. Roger Federer has been No 1 in the tennis world for a record-breaking 237 weeks and the Swiss government still hasn’t made him a Datuk.

I wish politicians would resolve to:

1. Stop politicking and concede that sometimes the other side can be right.

2. Work together more on issues that affect everyone. Australia’s successful HIV programme worked well because from the very beginning, the government and opposition decided it was a bipartisan issue.

3. Be more self-reflective. And breathe before they say anything.

4. Get rid of sexism everywhere it is found, especially in political parties, in Parliament and State Assemblies and in general commentary.

5. Come out and unequivocally condemn violence against women, no ifs, no buts.

6. Publicly shake the hand of an HIV-positive adult.

I wish the police would resolve to:

1. Ticket every single person who double and triple park on Fridays and not excuse them just because they are apparently communing with God. Or, watching football.

2. Stop finding parangs in the cars of every single person who accuses them of wrongdoing.

3. Stop shrugging their shoulders every time someone complains of their bags being snatched, laptops stolen etc. Police reports aren’t just for claiming insurance or getting new ICs done.

I wish Malaysians in general would:

1. Use their car signal lights for a change

2. Queue

3. Park in the right places, dead straight and not encroach onto empty spots.

4. Not double and triple park in front of mosques on Fridays and think that God is OK with it.

5. Stop waiting for someone else to do something

6. Stop putting down people who do something

7. Stop reading so much gossip and trash. It really doesn’t reflect well on us.

8. Stop believing everything they read. Just because it’s on the Internet really doesn’t make it truer.

9. Register to vote if they haven’t yet.

10. Remember that their votes are valuable and should not be given away on empty promises.

Happy 2011, folks!
Book Review: 'The Antinomies of Feminism and Islam': the limits of a Marxist analysis
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(published in Middle East Women’s Studies Review; Vol. xviii, Nos. 1-2, Spring/Summer, 2003).

Asma Barlas*
Feminism and Islamic Fundamentalism: the Limits of Postmodern Analysis, Haideh Moghissi, 166 pages, including index; London: Zed Books, 1999.

Haideh Moghissi makes two simple but audacious claims in her second book: first, that contemporary Islamic feminism is an arm of Islamic fundamentalism which serves— sometimes unintentionally—the interests of Islamic patriarchies. This does not mean, however, that feminism is an in-house phenomenon in Muslim societies; rather, it has been imposed upon them from the outside. Second, rather than critiquing this worrisome nexus between feminism and fundamentalism, Western secular intellectuals, especially postmodernists, enable it by embracing a convoluted idea of cultural difference. In fact, their antipathy to Western modernity makes postmodernists the ideological bed-fellows of Islamic fundamentalists (hence the subtitle of the book).

In support of this argument, Moghissi traverses a lot of ground (in seven chapters) from a critique of Oriental sexuality to one of “Islamic feminism and its Discontents.” En route, she maps out the evolution in Western approaches to Islam from Orientalism to Islamic feminism, illustrates the pitfalls of postmodernism, exposes the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism (taking as a case study her country of birth, Iran), and deliberates on the implications of modernity for women and social change. As a feminist, she is open about her own political stance, which is Marxist, and, as a Marxist, she is open about her dim view of religion, especially as a driving force for meaningful social change. For Moghissi, Islamic feminism is fundamentally flawed, even when it comes to naming it. “Is Islamic feminism a brand of feminism or a brand of Islamism?” (146) she wonders in the last pages of the book. However, she does not advance an answer, even suggesting that one cannot know with certainty because of the difficulty of analyzing “the discourse of ‘Muslim feminists’, for we can never determine whether the use of Islamic signs and vocabulary is a matter of faith or a self-protecting tactic. Are they truly Muslim women turned feminists or feminists using Islamic language against ‘Islamic’ state repression? Or are they, instead, Muslim women whose ‘feminism’ is constructed for the purpose of softening or sanitizing fundamentalist rule?” (75).

*Asma Barlas is associate professor and chair of Politics, at Ithaca College, New York, and the author of “Believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur’an", University of Texas Press (2002).

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Sa’diyya Shaikh: Exegetical Violence: Nushuz in Quraanic Gender Ideology (permission given)
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"The manipulation of sacred text has always been a structural characteristic of the practice of power in Muslim societies" Fatima Mernissi.

1. Introduction

Qur’anic scholarship over the past fourteen centuries has developed into a prolific and highly specialised field. Historically this discipline has primarily remained the domain of men and has chiefly represented their experiences and worldviews. This male bias has resulted in the systematic exclusion of women’s perspectives from the dominant religious discourses.

In this paper I will show how the practice of patriarchal power in medieval Muslim societies has been mediated through understandings of the Qur’an. I will examine and analyze medieval Qur’anic exegesis in order to focus on how the practice of religious power defined and reflected existing gender ideology and gender relations.  I will argue that the ideological tenets embedded in a patriarchal understanding of the Qur’an and Islam fosters a mode of gender relations which practically disempower Muslim women. My particular interest in this study is directed at the relationship between Islamic gender ideology and its implications for violence against women.

I begin with a preliminary outline of the significance of the Qur'an in Muslim societies and the related centrality of exegesis. Here I provide a rationale for my focus on the interpretations of particular exegetes. Secondly, I describe my methodology which is the application of feminist hermeneutics to the exegetical studies. Thirdly, I proceed with my own analysis of the exegesis. Here I focus on the interpretations of the verse Q.4:34 as the index of socio‑religious gender constructions.

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Domestic Violence & Shari'a: A Comparative Study of Muslim Societies in Middle East, Africa & Asia
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By Lisa Hajjar


On March 12, 2000, some 300,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Rabat, Morocco, expressing their support for a new law expanding women's right to divorce. Simultaneously, a comparable number of demonstrators took to the streets of the nearby city of Casablanca to protest the law as a deviation from shari'a (Islamic law). While divorce is a permissible and established option in Islam, in many Muslim societies it tends to be treated as a male prerogative; women can easily be divorced, but not seek divorce [1]. The new Moroccan law aimed to lessen this gender imbalance [2], sparking the competing demonstrations that, together, offered anecdotal evidence of sharply divergent views on Muslim women's rights.

Opponents of the new law framed their position as a defence of religion and the family, claiming that the law conflicted with women's duties to their husbands, and contravened their shari'a-based status as legal minors. Supporters heralded the new law as an advance for women, not (necessarily) a repudiation of shari'a. Those who had been working for years to bring such a law into being had sought to alter women's status as perennial subordinates in the context of the family. Indeed, the laws significance, recognized by opponents and supporters alike, was its potential for eroding masculine privilege, albeit slightly, by enhancing women's options to end a marriage.

In Morocco, as elsewhere, one of the most common reasons women would seek to end a marriage is to extricate themselves from a harmful situation. This illuminates the connection between the right to divorce and female vulnerability to domestic violence. [3]. Domestic violence can be defined as violence that occurs within the private sphere, generally between individuals who are related through intimacy, blood or law. [It is] nearly always a gender-specific crime, perpetrated by men against women.[4]. One of the strongest predictors of violence against women is the restriction on women's ability to leave the family setting [5]. But, as most women's rights activists...

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Secular Women’s Activism in Contemporary Egypt by Nadje Al-Ali
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The history of the Egyptian women's movement is characterized by a variety of competing and sometimes overlapping discourses, including secular-oriented and religious voices. However, during the past decades, both the state and women's activists had to take into account increasing fundamentalist activism, discourses and demands. These days the discursive and political spaces of secular activists are becoming smaller and smaller. But how do secular-oriented women struggling for women’s and human rights as well as changing gender relations counter Islamist constituencies and fundamentalist tendencies?

From the outset, I should clarify that I am not using the term fundamentalist synonymously with Islamist. In my view, Islamist movements and political activists comprise a variety of political positions ranging from radical militant to moderate. Some Islamist groups are exclusionary and fascist as it is characteristic of fundamentalist movements all over the world. However, there are Islamist individuals and groups who pursue their political goals of establishing an Islamic state and implementing the shari’a (Islamic law) while considering the rights of religious and ethnic minorities. Some Islamist women also advocate women’s rights within the family, as well as the social, economic and political spheres. Although I am suspicious about the term “Islamist feminism”, I do believe that, at least in the Egyptian context, there are Islamist women whose political culture and goals cannot merely be subsumed under the category of fundamentalist.

Acknowledging that women’s activism in present-day Egypt encompasses a broad range of political and ideological frameworks, in my own research I have specifically focused on secular-oriented activists. With secular-oriented I mean those who advocate a separation between religion and politics, which does not necessarily denote anti-religious or anti-Islamic positions. Furthermore, I suggest that secular women activists do not endorse shari'a (that is Islamic law) as the main or sole source of legislation; but they also refer to civil law and human rights conventions as frames of reference for their struggle. However, this only presents a very general working definition. It became obvious in the course of my political involvement with the Egyptian women's movement and also in the context of my research that Egyptian women, just as women in western societies, are eclectic and selective in their frames of references. Values and politics are shaped through a variety of factors, including family, education, religious frameworks, political ideologies, personal experiences, literature and so forth. What is important to stress is that there exists a broad continuum of secular approaches and religious practices, which, to my mind, challenges simplistic dichotomous notions of secular vs. religious. Also important to mention is the fact that there are about 10% Christians, that is particularly Copts, in Egypt. Several women I interviewed in Egypt were of Coptic origin. For Coptic women, secularism is often perceived as the only framework that would allow them equal citizenship both as women and as members of the minority religion.

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Marriage Contracts in Islamic Jurisprudence
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by Kecia Ali (Senior Research Analyst, FSE)

Muslim marriage is a contract, not a sacrament. Though it has importance as the only religiously sanctioned way for individuals to have legitimate sexual relationships and to procreate (now that slave-concubinage is no longer practiced), marriage is a civil agreement, entered into by two individuals or those acting on their behalf. And because it is a contract (‘aqd), it conveys legal rights and obligations to each spouse. This brief essay will discuss those rights along with the crucial issues of how and whether they can be modified through contractual stipulations (shurut, sing. shart). The focus here is on “Islamic law” in the sense of jurisprudence (fiqh), and not, it should be stressed, on what Islamic marriage ideally should be according to the Qur’an or prophetic tradition.

Islamic jurisprudence, as elaborated by various schools of legal thought, considers the main purpose of the marriage contract to make intercourse lawful (halal) between a husband and wife and to legitimize any resulting offspring. The marriage contract also establishes further rights and duties for each spouse. Aside from the basic requirement of “mutual good treatment,” which is not legally defined, these rights and duties are differentiated by gender. They are also interdependent: a failure by one spouse to perform a specific duty may jeopardize his or her claim to a particular right.

The husband’s first duty is to pay an agreed-upon dower (mahr or sadaq) to his wife; this property, which can range from a token sum to a substantial amount of wealth, is legally hers and she may save, spend, or invest it however she chooses. In exchange for the payment of dower, the husband receives what is referred to as milk al-nikah, milk al-‘aqd, or milk al-bud‘, “ownership (or control) of marriage (or intercourse) / the marriage contract / [the wife’s] vulva”; this milk is a prerequisite for lawful intercourse. Because he possesses this control, he and he alone can unilaterally end the marriage at any time by a pronouncement of repudiation (talaq). If the wife wishes to end the marriage, she must either pay him to gain his agreement (in divorce for compensation, khul‘) or, if she has grounds (which vary according to the different schools of legal thought), she may seek judicial divorce.

In addition to dower, the wife has a right to lodging, clothing, and support, as well as, in most cases, support for at least one servant to perform domestic chores and wait on her, as was common in pre-modern societies. If she has co-wives, she also has the right to an equal share of her husband’s time. In exchange for his support of his wife, jurists hold that a husband has the right to restrict her movements and to expect that she be always available for sexual intimacy. A wife who refuses his advances or leaves the marital home without permission, or with permission but on her own behalf, loses her right to support as well as any claim to a portion of her husband’s time.

The jurists disagree over whether the rights established by the marriage contract can be modified by the inclusion of stipulations. Most often, such stipulations are aimed at securing certain rights or privileges for the wife. The most commonly debated provisions specify that the husband will not take any additional wives or will not relocate his wife from her hometown. Among the four Sunni legal schools, the Hanbalis grant the most recognition to these stipulations, holding that if the husband violates either stipulation, the wife has the right to dissolve her marriage. (It does not mean that any additional marriage he concludes will be void, only that she can opt to leave him if he marries again; likewise, she cannot bind him to remain with her in her town, but can obtain a divorce if he insists on relocating her.)

Jurists from three other legal schools (Maliki, Hanafi, and Shafi‘i), by contrast, consider both clauses to be utterly void and without effect. A woman can include these stipulations in her marriage contract but, at least according to the predominant view of jurists from these three schools, she cannot enforce them in any way. However, if her husband had delegated to her a right to divorce if the stipulation was breached or had pronounced a suspended divorce that would take effect automatically if he violated the stipulation, then the binding power of the husband’s divorce oaths serves as guarantor of the stipulation.

The inclusion of stipulations in marriage contracts is discussed by many Muslims today as the best way to protect women’s rights within marriage. In majority-Muslim societies, current legal codes determine how stipulations will be enforced. For Muslim minorities living in secular societies where Muslims are not subject to a particular interpretation of Islamic law by government decree, the legal strategy of including conditions in a marriage contract can be a useful way of making clear the spouses' expectations for the marriage and their roles within it. In general, such contracts will be only morally binding and, unless very carefully drafted, not legally enforceable under civil law, though there are organizations, such as Karamah, working on model marriage contracts that will be enforceable in the United States.

There is disagreement among Muslims about the degree to which such modified contracts address the legal disadvantages Muslim women face during marriage and in case of divorce. When husbands and wives agree that they wish to enforce traditional rules, such as dower obligations, the marriage contract is a vital tool. But for those who object to the overall framework of differentiated rights and duties, or to particular male prerogatives, modifications to marriage contracts cannot successfully resolve the problem. For example, regardless of which stipulations are attached to the contract, the legal structure of marriage in Islamic jurisprudence presumes the husband’s continual sexual access to his wife and his right to end the marriage unilaterally at any time. To resolve these issues will require a fundamental rethinking of the legal concept of milk, ownership or control, and its place in Muslim marriage – in other words, the basic nature of the marriage contract itself.

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