Wednesday, February 21, 2018 03:40:59 PM

The MMDA and Muslim Women’s Right to Shape an Egalitarian law

By Muslim Womens Research and Action Forum - Fri Nov 17, 2:38 am

Featured image courtesy Maatram

This is an attempt to engage with the current arguments and counter arguments, debates and contestations over Muslim women’s rights in Sri Lanka and the need to reform Muslim Personal Law in light of the mandate given to the Muslim Personal Law Reforms Committee appointed by the cabinet in 2009 and headed by Justice Saleem Marsoof. After more than 8 years of deliberation, we are concerned that this Committee is still unable to conclude its work and keeps extending the date of the release of its final report.

We write from the perspective of the Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum (MWRAF), a Muslim women’s organization which has a long engagement with Muslim Personal law in Sri Lanka, including research, publications, training of Quazis, para-legal trainings and legal counseling. Moreover, we write in solidarity with a number of other progressive individuals, groups and organizations who are calling for reform of Muslim Personal laws to ensure equality and justice for Muslim women in Sri Lanka. Our work of more than 35 years with community women and men across the country and our knowledge of the workings of Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) – its inherent weaknesses – provide us with ample ground evidence that the MMDA needs to be reformed.

The Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, which is at the centre of these debates and contestations is now almost 65 years old.  For more than three decades of struggle to bring reforms to the MMDA in line with Qur’anic justice and women’s lived realities, we have experienced many missed opportunities due to successive governments abdicating its responsibility to uphold Muslim women’s rights to so called leaders of the Muslim community….

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