Malaysia

The High Court yesterday ruled that pregnant women should not be discriminated from seeking employment. In a landmark ruling, judge Datuk Zaleha Yusof made her decision in favour of Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin, who took the government to court to seek a declaration that pregnancy is not a reason for her to be denied employment as an untrained relief teacher.

The Casa Asia Award 2011, in its eighth edition, has been awarded to the Malaysian NGO Sisters in Islam for its solid committment in promoting women's rights in the Muslim world from Malaysia. Sisters in Islam is a Non-Government Organization of Muslim women that searches to articulate women's rights in Islam, highlighting the need to interpret Koran in its own historical and cultural context. This group, made up of several Malaysian women, who are lawyers, activists, academics and journalists, advocates for the right of women to hold public positions, and directs its efforts towards the promotion of rights, in global, of Muslim women, on the basis of principles such as equality, justice and freedom imposed by the Koran.

There has been much furore over the formation of the Obedient Wives’ Club by a fringe Islamic group causing heated debate among women and men, alike. Ipoh Echo sought the views of two Malay Muslim women who helm a women’s rights movement here in Ipoh. Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar and Puan Halida Mohd Ali are from the Perak Women for Women Society. 

The ASEAN Progressive Muslim Movement (APMM), a network of twenty one (21) non-governmental organizations working for the protection and promotion of women’s rights in the ASEAN region, jointly with Women Living Under Muslim Laws and the Global Campaign to Stop Violence Against Women in the name of "Culture" (Violence is not our Culture Campaign), view the recent formation of The Obedient Wives’ Club (OWC) in Malaysia as disturbing and offensive. The Syarie Lawyers Association (PGSM) in Malaysia has attacked the Club for encouraging women to fulfill their husbands' needs by being "good prostitutes". See attached APMM's statement of concern.

Zainah Anwar, Sisters in Islam (SIS) founder answers ... What are your thoughts on the French government's ban on Muslim women from wearing the burqa in public? Susila B, Johor. Z.A. I believe the state has no role to play in deciding whether a woman should cover or uncover her hair. In Iran or Saudi Arabia, you cannot leave home without the hijab but in Turkey you cannot be in any public school or university or government building with the hijab. I wish the state would leave women's heads alone. However, when it comes to the burqaor niqab (face covering), I find myself conflicted about the role of the state in this. 

Celebrations for International Women’s Day on March 8 and the days leading up to it were as diverse as Malaysian women themselves. There were concerts, dinner theatre shows, workshops, readings and, if you had followed Sisters in Islam (SIS) and the Musawah Young Women’s Caucus, a pleasant stroll through Taman Jaya. But the placards carried by the women participating in the SIS and Musawah event indicated that it’s no walk in the park for these two organisations in their work to improve the lot of Muslim women. “One Husband = One Wife”, “No Religion Condones Violence”, “Women’s Rights = Human Rights”, said the signs the women carried on their chests and backs and across their arms.

On International Women’s Day 2011, WLUML would like to share a few of the many successes and struggles of our networkers across the world: from Malaysia, Sudan, Pakistan and Egypt.

Two prominent Malaysian women have been included in a New York-based global advocacy’s list of 100 most inspiring people around the world for their work in advocating the rights of women and girls. Zainah Anwar - who founded Sisters In Islam (SIS) and is the project director of Musawah, an international collaborative group for equality and justice in the Muslim family - and blogger, women’s rights and HIV/AIDS awareness advocate Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir were named in the list put out by Women Deliver.

Sisters in Islam (SIS) welcomes the withdrawal of the appeal by Dewan Pemuda Masjid Malaysia (Malaysian Assembly of Mosque Youth, MAMY) against the High Court decision to strike off MAMY’s application for a court order to stop SIS from using its pen-name, ‘Sisters in Islam’. SIS maintains its position on the importance of civil dialogue to address differences of opinions in any democratic society, and remains concerned over the use of police reports and frivolous suits as intimidation tactics to silence progressive voices. Update to Malaysia: Sisters in Islam get to keep name

Sisters in Islam (SIS) expresses its utmost concern over news reports of a 14-year-old child married off to an adult man in July this year. This only came to light when the child and the man who married her participated in a mass wedding celebration at the Federal Territory Mosque on 4th December 2010, where couples were given RM1,000 and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom was in attendance as guest of honour.

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