Sri Lankan Quazi Courts: No excuse for not allowing Muslim women to be judges – MPLARG activist | Sunday Observer

Sri Lankan Quazi Courts: No excuse for not allowing Muslim women to be judges – MPLARG activist

Hyshyama Hamin
Hyshyama Hamin

Muslim Personal Law Reforms Action Group (MPLRAG) activist Hyshyama Hamin said that as Sudan and Malaysia had appointed Muslim women as chief justices, Sri Lanka has no excuse for not allowing

Hamin, a panellist at the media briefing convened by MPLRAG and Hashtag Generation to highlight the necessity of appointing women judges to Sri Lankan Quazi Courts and needed reforms to the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) at the International Center for Ethnic Studies on Tuesday, called upon all presidential candidates and leaders of political parties to include MMDA reforms as a women’s rights concern, a fundamental rights issue and an issue of national priority.

“Muslim women are not demanding the sky and the earth, but basic rights to have a family law that treats us equally and a Quazi court system that brings us justice and dignity so that these matters will no longer be a barrier for Muslim women to be equal citizens of Sri Lanka.”

Hamin said that the MMDA and the male dominated Quazi court system has created a culture of impunity under which violations are breeding and thriving.

“The implementation of this discriminating law extends to every aspect of our lives. We are second class citizens because of this discrimination,” she said.

She said that the State has turned a blind eye towards the activities of the Quazi courts because they have been convinced that this is a community issue and should not be touched. “The Muslim male leaders of our community have failed us by allowing themselves to be influenced by patriotic opinions,” she said.

“Religion and culture can no longer be used by conservative groups as an excuse to strip women of their fundamental human rights,” she said, reiterating that whoever wins the next Presidential poll should prioritise reforms to the MMDA and heed women’s voices on the most urgent amendments, including but not limited to women as Quazi judges and other positions, such as marriage registrars, board of Quazi members, all of which exclude women, raising the minimum age of marriage to 18 without exceptions, allowing women to enter into marriage with the same autonomy as Muslim men, grant women equal divorce procedures, improve the standards of the family court system as well as other concerns which have been raised and will be raised in the future.

Attorney-at-Law Ermiza Tegal said that the Constitution is supreme for the people, and those principles of equality and justice should be available to all Sri Lankans. She said that the MMDA is a recognition of diversity of communities in the country, and it was nice to see diversity being permitted, encouraged and promoted.

The Article 12(2) of the Constitution states that, ‘No citizen shall be discriminated against on grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any one such grounds’. Hence restricting the position of Quazi judges to only males violates the fundamental rights of women and is the only official judicial position that discriminates on the basis of sex.