KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 — The Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (Arrow) today urged the civil courts to review the recent judgment on Muslim women rights advocacy group Sisters in Islam (SIS).
Arrow said the High Court’s dismissal of SIS’ challenge against a five-year fatwa labelling it an Islamic “deviant” organisation has severe repercussions for Malaysia in the advocacy and protection of women’s rights and their dignity.
“To reiterate what SIS has already said — after 62 years of independence, Malaysian women deserve better than this,” Arrow executive director Sivananthi Thanenthiran said in a statement.
Arrow, a Malaysia-based NGO which advocates women and youths rights, asked how SIS is considered to be “deviant” by pushing for policies that are today being implemented in other Islamic countries like Morocco and Tunisia as well as famed Islamic institutions like the Al-Azhar University in Egypt.
“SIS is a civil society working towards advancing the rights of Muslim women in Malaysia within the framework of Islam, universal human rights principles, constitutional guarantees as well as live realities and experiences of women.
“SIS has also been advocating issues in relation to end child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), promoting gender equality in Muslim marriages and Islamic Family Laws, and taking a stance against gender based violence and moral policing,” Sivananthi said.
“By saying that the civil court has no jurisdiction relating to Shariah law, it is setting the stage for increasing crackdown on women’s rights organisations by fundamentalist and conservative groups,” she added.
Last Tuesday, High Court judge Datuk Nordin Hassan threw out SIS’ challenge of the fatwa saying the civil courts have no jurisdiction to decide on the case.
He said SIS should instead go to the Shariah courts to challenge the fatwa.
The judge also said on the Selangor fatwa applies to SIS Forum (Malaysia) even if it was a company.
Companies and their directors are usually considered separate legal entities, but the judge said justice in this case requires this corporate veil to be lifted.
While acknowledging the company SIS is an “artificial legal person”, the judge said its directing minds are Muslims and their activities touch on Islamic law which the fatwa is applicable on.