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

Mandatory Jail Sentence for Divorce Outside the Court

Sisters in Islam welcomes the decision of JAKIM and the State Religious Departments to introduce a mandatory jail sentence against husbands who divorce their wives outside the Court.

In 1984, the Islamic Family Law outlawed divorce pronounced outside theCourt. The original principle of the law was that that justice would onlybe served if divorce was pronounced in the Court. However, an amendmentwas introduced in 1994 which provided that a divorce pronounced outsidethe Court could be registered if it was valid according to Hukum Syara’.

This loophole in the law has led to abuses. In some states, the statistics for registration of divorces outside the court is higher than for application for divorce by court order. Obviously, the penalty of a fine of not more than RM1,000 or/and imprisonment not exceeding six months has not served as an effective deterrent. Moreover, there have been no reports of any man who has served a jail sentence for committing the offence of pronouncing divorce outside the Court.

Sisters in Islam proposes that a mandatory jail sentence ranging from a minimum of one week up to a maximum of one year and a fine ranging from a minimum of RM1000 to a maximum of RM5,000 be imposed. In addition, any divorce pronounced outside the Court should be automatically regarded as a divorce without just cause and therefore the divorced wife is entitled to a high amount of muta’ah, an obligatory compensatory payment due to every woman who is divorced without just and sufficient grounds.

We believe that the proposed mandatory custodial sentence, increased fine and high financial compensation to the aggrieved wife, will help to deter errant husbands from taking advantage of this loophole in the law. Moreover, it will also help to inculcate respect for the Islamic Family Law.

Sisters in Islam

9 August 2003

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