Jumaat, 23 Mei 2008

Call to ‘teach’ women on polygamy raises heckles

The Star, Friday May 23, 2008

THE discussion on problems afflicting the Syariah Courts caused a ruckus after Ibrahim Ali (Ind – Pasir Mas) called for a campaign on the concept of polygamy to be taught to all women to end such problems.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic Affairs, Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, fielded questions from the Opposition on delays in settling Syariah cases with Zuraida Kamaruddin (PKR – Ampang) saying it was “very painful” for a woman to have to go to court three separate times to settle a case.

“A woman has to go once for the divorce, once again for custody and again for property division. It is extremely painful for them.”

Fuziah Salleh (PKR – Kuantan) then asked if Syariah Court counsellors were qualified, pointing out that she had received numerous complaints about how the woman was always blamed for everything.

“They are not counselled but given 'advice.' And every time, they are told that the woman is to be blamed. If it is a family problem, they must be patient. If they are beaten up, they must also be patient,” she said.

As Ahmad Zahid was about to answer, Ibrahim stood up to say that such cases would not stop happening as the population was increasing and divorces were taking place daily.

“Such problems happen because women cannot accept polygamy. From a preventive point of view, what about doing a big campaign so that women can accept polygamy?” he asked.

Ibrahim said women did not understand that when they were pregnant for nine months, or had “problems” when they hit their 50s, their men still wanted to “have fun”.

“So the man wants to marry again, and the wife gets jealous and asks for a divorce.”

This caused Zuraida to stand up and say that a gender approach was very demeaning.

Ahmad Zahid agreed, saying: “That man is a male chauvinist.” To this, Ibrahim giggled.

When Ibrahim said that it was allowed from the Islamic point of view, Zuraida hit back and said men must be held to blame, too.

When the House finally calmed down, Ahmad Zahid said although prevention could also be looked into, what was important was to take care of the family.

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