KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 — Women’s rights group Sisters In Islam (SIS) has expressed its disappointment towards the Shariah Court system today and its handling of cases related to Emilia Hanafi, the former wife of businessman Datuk SM Faisal SM Nasimuddin Kamal.
In a statement today, SIS said sending Emilia to Kajang Prison to serve a seven-day jail sentence earlier marks a dark day for all women especially Muslim mothers and wives in the country.
“The Shariah judiciary, which is supposed to be responsible for upholding justice and safeguarding the welfare of the affected family members from oppression, instead acted to issue a seven-day jail arrest warrant on the mother simply because she had changed an ex-husband’s visit date at the request of the child — her son.
“The mother, named Emilia Hanafi, arrived at the Federal Territory Shariah Court at about 9.45am to surrender, in protest and unwillingly, to the court. However, when we arrived at the court, we got the news that the arrest warrant was never actually served on Emilia and the judge in question refused to see her or her Shariah lawyer,” said SIS.
According to SIS, it was only known later that the arrest warrant had not been served before, as it was handed over to Emilia just this morning when she was in court.
“Emilia, who is also the ex-wife of entrepreneur and businessman SM Faisal Nasimuddin had filed a domestic violence report against her ex-husband in 2015. Although it has been seven years, her domestic violence case is still ongoing.
“However, Emilia’s case is not an isolated case as many women have experienced difficulties in our Shariah court system in Malaysia,” the group said.
Earlier this morning, Emilia was sentenced to a seven-day jail sentence for failing to comply with the Shariah High Court’s order on the visitation dates of her three children.
The sentence was meted out after she surrendered herself to the Shariah Court here. According to her lawyer, Nazri Yahya, Emilia will be serving her sentence starting today at the Kajang Women’s Prison.
Citing its own legal aid clinic Telenisa, SIS said many Muslim women continue to face various issues related to Islamic family laws in cases involving wife and child alimony claims, matrimonial property, and childcare, which they said are time-consuming, complicated and expensive.
It also pointed to the several gaps in the Shariah judiciary, such as lack of digitisation unlike the civil courts, no audio or video recording, and no platform for reference to cases.
There were also findings on complaints about very complicated procedures such as dissolution of marriage and claims of rights after divorce where the client has to open several files in the different Shariah courts.
“Clients are given two to three different dates for each claim. The procedure is highly harassing and the claims cannot be heard in full,” the group said.
It also listed several issues involving alimony claims, polygamy, and child marriages.
SIS said the situation is very worrying and sad as women are already facing injustice and oppression under the roof of their own homes, when they turn and hope to the institution of justice in defending their destiny, the difficulties and other difficulties that they have to face.
“Who else can women hope to get justice for themselves and their children? By 2021, as many as 75 per cent of Telenisa callers will be from the B40 (bottom 40 per cent) group who will have difficulty paying for legal services that are too expensive and have never been controlled.
“Therefore, the Shariah Court must ensure that the rights of these mothers are guaranteed and justice is upheld immediately. Delayed justice is denied justice,” said SIS.