Joint Press Statement: JAIS Arrest of Pub Singer
(Addendum, 29 June 2000)
We welcome the decision of the MB Selangor to drop the charges against those arrested.
This however does not detract from the larger issue of:
- growing intolerance and discrimination against women in the name of Islam;
- the use of law as a mechanism to regulate a person’s conscience, faith and lifestyle;
- the injustice and selective prosecution that result from trying to enforce a law that has a widespread impact on the lifestyle of citizens.
We urge the Government to set up a committee which includes representation from women’s groups, progressive Islamic scholars and constitutional experts to review the Syariah Criminal Offences legislation which has been adopted by all states, and to evaluate the record of its enforcement.
The record of enforcement displays that the weakest, most disempowered and marginalised in society are subject to prosecution. Last May, 17 university students were found guilty for “indecent behaviour”. They were fined from RM700-RM1,000 and sentenced from one month to two months imprisonment. Their offences were:
- For sitting together on a bench with the man having his arm on woman’s back at a shopping complex;
- For holding the woman’s waist in a shopping complex;
- For sitting closely together and holding hands;
- For holding hands and embracing each other on the kerb (tembok);
- For sitting closely together on the kerb and holding hands;
- For sitting on a bench with the woman leaning on the man’s shoulder;
- For sitting in the dark under a tree in a park;
- For sitting on a bench in the dark by a lake;
On the scale of priority, shouldn’t JAIS and other religious authorities concentrate its energies on more important issues, in particular the abuses that occur under the Islamic Family Law that endanger the well-being and welfare of innocent children and victimised women, such as:
- failure to enforce syariah court orders to fathers/ex-husbands who fail to pay maintainence of their children and ex-wives;
- failure to arrest those who ignore court orders and summonses to appear in court;
- failure to serve and assist to serve court summonses and orders;
- failure to take action against those who consistently (repeated offeders) mock the Islamic Family Law provisions by intentionally and continually violating the law by divorcing their wives at their whims and fancies in and outside the court;
- failure to take action against those who repeatedly marry polygamously without the court’s permission and deliberately fail to register such marriages.
Sisters in Islam
29 June 2000