No. 4 Lorong 11/8E, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.​

Lower-Income Tier Women Affected by the Pandemic the Most, Reveals Telenisa: Statistics & Findings 2021 Booklet

Telenisa, a legal aid clinic under Sisters in Islam (SIS) has launched the Telenisa: Statistics & Findings 2021
booklet which reveals insights on issues women experienced with matters related to the Islamic Family
Law. Held at Grand Millennium Hotel Kuala Lumpur, the launch and iftar event was officiated by YB Senator Puan Fadhlina Dato’ Dr. Siddiq, Member of the Dewan Negara, representing DUN Pulau Pinang
and YB Maria Chin Abdullah, Petaling Jaya Member of Parliament.

The Telenisa legal helpline service was launched in 2003. For 19 years, Telenisa has assisted over 10,000
women and men from various backgrounds and it remains as a primary rights-based advisory service for
Islamic Family Laws and Syariah Criminal Offences Laws in Malaysia today.

Published annually since 2016 by Sisters in Islam, the Telenisa: Statistics & Findings booklet is our effort
to bring forward women’s lived realities through issues they faced and inform relevant stakeholders and
law and policy makers to understand the need for continuous reform and improvements on women’s
rights in the family. In 2021, Telenisa had a total of 426 clients with 221 of them returning as repeat
clients. This is an increase from 2020 with 422 clients, in which 58 of them were repeat clients. In 2021,
the majority of clients were women, with a total of 392 clients (92%) and 34 clients were men (8%).

To understand further on Telenisa clients’ financial backgrounds, they were grouped within their
household income classification which are B40 (lower-income tier with an official income of not more
than RM4,850 per month), M40 (middle-income tier with a monthly income of RM4,851 to RM10,970)
and “undisclosed.” “Undisclosed” refers to clients who did not disclose their household income.

The Telenisa: Statistics and Findings 2021 booklet revealed some interesting findings: 56% of our clients
consisted of support staff and homemakers, who also belonged to the B40 group. As the B40 group is of
the lower-income tier, it suggested that the majority of our clients are burdened financially to obtain
legal representation. This is because in Malaysia, legal fees are generally expensive and are largely
unregulated. However, their financial burden is not restricted to legal representation only as our clients
struggle to pay for additional expenses such as transportation and additional child care expenses. They
also struggle to find the time to attend meetings with lawyers as they are unable to take leave from their

Telenisa also recorded the most number of domestic violence reports with 303 cases in 2021. This is an
increase from the previous year where in 2020, 99 domestic violence cases were reported and 199 cases
were reported in 2019. Among the types of abuse our clients experienced, the highest number of abuse
reported is psychological or emotional abuse with 129 cases, followed by physical abuse with 100 cases,
social abuse and financial abuse with 30 cases each, and sexual abuse with 14 cases. Based on Telenisa’s
observation, most of the psychological abuses inflicted upon our clients were forms of intimidation,
insults, guilt trips, gaslighting and manipulation. Clients have also voiced their concerns in filing for
divorce as they experienced difficulty in proving that they had endured psychological abuse to the
Syariah Court.

In 2021, Telenisa recorded another significant finding. A new issue in child custody was recorded for the
first time since 2018 which is the concern pertaining to the registration of a child’s nationality and how it
would affect the parent’s custody claim. On another note, in 2019, inquiries on visitation rights were
recorded at 88%. However, the percentage dropped in 2020 to 39% due to the restriction in movements
during the pandemic.

Interestingly, in 2021, Telenisa recorded a rise in inquiries regarding additional ta’liq with 20 inquiries in
2021 as compared to 2020 with 3 inquiries and 11 inquiries in 2019. This may be due to the rise of
discussions regarding ta’liq on social media during the period of 2020-2021.

Additional ta’liq is recognised both in existing law and Islamic legal traditional. However, it has been
reported that there is reluctance on the part of the relevant authorities to include this additional ta’liq
that is already agreed upon by the couple to be married. For example, clients were told that to register
additional ta’liq, they need to appoint a Syarie lawyer to obtain approval from the Syariah court. This is
not true as the registration of additional ta’liq does not need an approval from the Syariah Court as the
marriage registrar need to only register this additional ta’liq.

Clients have also reported that they were ridiculed by the marriage registrar and religious authorities
when they inquired about additional ta’liq. They were given many excuses and were told that a wife has
no right to forbid her husband to practice polygamy and to include these provisions in her ta’liq. This is
concerning as the denial of including additional ta’liq denies women further safeguard and protection in
the marriage that is already agreed upon by the husband.

The increasing trend and numbers of issues pertaining to Islamic Family Law and Telenisa clients are
worrying and reveal a critical need for a continuous Islamic Family Law Reform and improvements on
women’s rights in the family, which Sisters in Islam (SIS) has tirelessly and continuously advocated for
over 30 years. SIS has also time and again urged for a greater balance of Islamic Family Laws and Syariah
Criminal Offences law following the most important tenets of Islam which are justice, compassion and

*Download the Telenisa: Statistics and Findings 2021 booklet and infographic here:
(Booklet – English)
(Booklet – Bahasa Melayu)
(Infographic – English)
(Infographic – Bahasa Melayu)

*Telenisa currently accepts face-to-face consultation on appointment basis, video calls, telephone calls
and WhatsApp at 012-812 3424 every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10am to 5pm.