Friday, December 30, 2005

Malaysia: Fierce Debate about Polygamy & Divorce

There is quite a furious debate under way in Malaysia over new family legislation on polygamy and divorce. Women's groups are claiming that the new law will make it easier for men to take multiple wives and to claim property after divorce.

The new law will apparently allow a husband to obtain an injunction preventing the disposition of property by a wife or a former wife. The amendment also endorses a man's purported right to polygamy without having to prove his financially capability of treating his wives on equal footing before taking on another. Upon taking a new wife, men can now seize property belonging to existing wives, and they are also given new rights to claim assets after a divorce, as well as less obligation to pay compensation and maintenance.

A women’s activist was quoted as saying that "They are giving more rights to the men whilst taking back the traditional Muslim women's rights." She said "It's not justified under Islam because Islam promotes the principle of equality and justice, and traditionally it guards the rights of Muslim women."