Law reform

The custom of arranged marriages is generally endorsed by South Asian communities of all religious affiliations. The system may have some advantages if due regard is given to the wishes and preferences of the intended spouses, and if dowry considerations do not turn the exercise into a commercial transaction — both very big “ifs.” It is the ugly side of arranged marriages that has made headlines in the British and American press several times in recent years.
In 1979 the Islamic regime of Pakistan introduced changes in the law of rape, providing Islamic standards of proof and punishment for this crime. The law concerning rape was made part of the ordinance, called The Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance, VII of 1979 (the term zina encompasses adultery, fornication, rape and prostitution).
Soon after I began my study of the religious life of the Lebanese Shi’a residing in the eastern section of Dearborn, Michigan, I occasionally heard rumors that mut’a (temporary or pleasure marriage) was being encouraged by the religious leaders (shaikhs) in the community.
Farida Rahman MP’s Private Member’s Bill on a proposed amendment to section V1 of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961 has become a much-talked-about subject because of its unconventional and contentious nature. Particularly, various women’s activist groups have shown tremendous interest in it. The subject of the bill raises the whole issue of women’s rights of general interests.
Only the blind overlook the worsening condition of women under the Islamic regime.
Most commentary on the condition of women in the Middle East assigns a central place to the role of Islam. In fact, there have been important variations, as well as persistent similarities, in women’s conditions in Muslim societies. To make sense of the varieties of women’s real, concrete historical experience, we must avoid confusing analytic and polemical goals.

Current writing on women in the Middle East exhibits two equally vigorous, but so far divergent trends.
The legal status of the Muslim women (1) in Bangladesh is defined by the principles of Sharia through Muslim Personal Law along with the general law which is non-religious and secular in its character. The Muslim personal law covers the field of marriage, divorce, maintenance, guardianship of children and inheritance whereas the general law covers the rights under the Constitution, penal codes, the civil and criminal procedure codes, evidence act etc.
A ‘Family Code’ law has been introduced which removes many of women’s basic human rights. She also speaks about contraception, the problem of abandoned children and the consequences for women of the insistence on virginity at marriage.

Marie Aimée: I would like to start with this new law, which is known in Algeria under the name “Family Code”, (not the name of it, that is “Law on Personal Status”) a title which is also used in Tunisia and Morocco.
Ms Noriani Nik Badli Shah, research manager of Sisters in Islam, an NGO which lobbies for the rights of Muslim women, said not many Muslim women were aware of this right, and those who did were discouraged from using it by social pressure.
The Chief Justice of Pakistan, The Hon Mr Justice Sh. Riaz Ahmad, with senior members of the Pakistani judiciary took part in a judicial conference with UK Judges to discuss best practice on handling child contact, child abduction & forced marriage cases.
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