Ban Polygamy in Sri Lanka
Posted on November 7th, 2016

Shenali D Waduge 

India’s Supreme Court in February 2015 following the Government of India petitioning it has delivered its verdict completely banning polygamy in India. Although Muslim personal law permits men to have four wives, the Supreme Court of India has ruled that a Muslim’s fundamental right to practice Islam did not include practicing polygamy. The Constitution will protect the Muslim faith but not practices when all Muslims do not practice it. India has 150million Muslim. Sri Lanka has 1.6million. A parallel justice, judicial system, parallel laws cannot prevail in a country where citizens have to be treated as equals and given equal rights.

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The Indian Supreme Court judgement delivered by Justices T S Thakur and A K Goel gave these key messages

  • What was protected under Article 25 (right to practice and propagate any religion) was the religious faith and not a practice which may run counter to public order, health or morality. Polygamy was not integral part of religion and monogramy was a reform within the power of the State under Article 25)”
  • Equality as per India’s constitution deems that these rights don’t permit Muslims to have multiple wives.

It is nothing that anyone can raise objection to. As per 1961 Indian census only 5.78% Indian Muslims actually practiced polygamy.

At a moral level if a man cannot bear to see his wife with another man, the same should apply to a woman who wouldn’t like to share her man with another woman.

At a financial level how can a man look after 4 women equally?

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At a political level polygamy will result in major demographic change where the likelihood of Muslim minority becoming a Muslim majority by increasing population is an aspect that cannot be ignored.

The other argument is that non-Muslims have begun converting to Islam for the simple reason of keeping 4 women legally. Bollywood star Dharmendra marrying Hema Malini inspite of being married and then denying converting is a case in point.

Although the Indian Constitution allowed Muslims to regulate their own laws governing matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance the decision taken by the GOI against polygamy has been on the grounds that polygamy and triple talaq impacts a woman’s status and her right to live with confidence and dignity – arguments that no one can dispute.

The view held was that India professing to be a secular democracy cannot deny equal status and dignity by allowing polygamy. Moreover, the arguments also remind that even theocratic Muslim states were Islam is State religion have also undergone reforms. As such talaq is banned in more than 20 countries including Pakistan and Bangladesh.

What is noteworthy is that Muslim women in India too had petitioned the Supreme Court to ban triple talaq even going to say it was against Islamic law and was discriminatory. So we have a situation where even Muslims are not in agreement to these Islamic practices a handful are demanding.

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According to Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan, an organization defending Muslim womens rights, Muslim men have exercise triple talaq over phone, by email and even sms.

Another women’s group Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality filing an affidavit called for Sharia courts to be banned in India again citing inequality and violation of human rights. All slogans that the West cannot object to by siding with the Muslim demands just to score brownie points and create dissent!

The MWQE is even advocating to completely ban organizations like All India Muslim Personal Law Board to save the country and Indian Muslims from the clamp of fundamentalists/activists”. This is the same dangerous scenario taking root in Sri Lanka.

The AIMPLB’s argument is strange indeed. They claim that polygamy is a ‘social need’ and a ‘blessing’ and that a lawful second wife was better than a mistress!

If 150m Indian Muslims all married and had 4 wives each this would make the Muslim population jump to 600million! However we know all Muslims do not practice polygamy and that does not make them any less Muslim!

Interestingly the National Shoora Council of Sri Lanka is echoing the same arguments as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

Quoting its 4 November press release:

  • interfering with the freedom to practice one’s religion which has been guaranteed by the Constitution”
  • The Muslim Personal Law has been a right enjoyed by the Muslims since pre-colonial times” (Muslims had no rights before or even during colonial rule as they were regarded as aliens with no land rights)
  • We strongly urge the yahapalana government not to ignore the pleas of the Muslim community who played a significant role in the transformation of 8th January 2015” (in other words ‘since we helped form the government we cannot be ignored’)

http://876r.blogspot.com/2016/11/sltj-minimum-age-for-marriage-not.html

When minorities demand rights they cannot demand exclusive rights for themselves. Especially when the ‘rights’ they demand directly raise other social issues – childrens rights to education being denied when forced to marry and bear children, complications at child birth, nutrition. Marrying more than one wife cannot become bigamy for one lot of people and for another small group it cannot become a ‘right’. Violation of Children’s Charter of the UN when small children become sexual toys of men old enough to be their fathers. Some cases of children dying from perverse sex is cited. No girl should be deprived of her childhood, her heath, her education, her aspirations.

Sri Lanka’s penal code defines bigamy in Section 362B punished with imprisonment upto 7 years and liable to a fine.

http://www.ceylontoday.lk/print20160321CT20160630.php?id=2192

Annually 50million children below age of 15 are married off (UNICEF)

Unicef study from 2000 to 2008 found that more than 43 per cent of women in Afghanistan were married under age, some before puberty. In Nigeria nearly half of all girls are married before they turn 15. In Saudi girls as young as 13 years are married out to men more than 25 years their senior. In Yemen more than half of girls are married before they attain their puberty.

The 10 countries with the highest rates of child marriage are: Niger, 75 per cent; Chad and Central African Republic, 68 per cent; Bangladesh, 66 per cent; Guinea, 63 per cent; Mozambique, 56 per cent; Mali, 55 per cent; Burkina Faso and South Sudan, 52 per cent; and Malawi, 50 per cent.

None of these countries can claim high living standards. Literacy is low, productivity is low, poverty is high. Gender equality statistics are clearly visible – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/maps-and-graphics/mapped-the-best-and-worst-countries-for-gender-equality/

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http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/where-does-it-happen/

Sri Lanka should not enter such a category knowingly. Living in the 21st century to even advocate child marriage is a global shame.

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http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/do-not-stop-sharing-this-until-every-person-who-cares-about-children-sees-it/

http://www.terrorscoop.com/child-rape-part-culture-says-islamic-preacher-denmark/ Child rape is part of our culture says Islamic preacher in Denmark.

The Indian Supreme Court verdict is an excellent foundation to argue Sri Lanka’s case against polygamy.

While the arguments against child marriage is equally quite clear.

Neither polygamy or child marriage is part of Islamic faith. It is a practice no different to the burqa and the current attire Muslims are wearing. This was the argument used by the French authorities when the burqa was banned. Of France’s 5million Muslims the police research revealed that only 1900 Muslims wore the burqa. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/01/france-burqa-ban-upheld-human-rights-court It is advised that Sri Lanka carry out a similar research.

We are living in modern times not the cave age. Yet, countries still practice bizarre anti-women laws still. Sudanese Muslim women will get lashes if they wear trousers, the Council of Islamic Ideology in Pakistan has proposed a wife-beating bill, it is legal to sexually assault one’s wife if she is over 14 in Bahamas and 13 in Singapore! In Lebanon a man can kidnap a woman and rape but if he marries her he is not prosecuted, in Egypt a man will get a lenient punishment for murder of a wife if he catches her in the act of adultery, in Cameron and Guinea men decide where their wives work, in Saudi Arabia women cannot drive – Sri Lanka should not want to belong into this category.

If anyone wants to practice such ancient and feudal acts it is best that they migrate to nations that are practicing them and not ride on minority religious rights to demand inappropriate practices to exist.

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Sri Lanka must use the legal arguments that paved the way for the Indian Supreme Court to ban polygamy in India to also ban it in Sri Lanka and also ensure that child marriages are also banned. In the same manner the new Muslim attire that is not Islamic but a new cultural practice route via Saudi Wahhabi mosques and having Western imperial objectives linked to it must also be denounced and legal actions taken.

You cannot have parallel legal systems existing when the core theme is equality for all before the law. Judicial systems cannot change per religious practices though anyone wishing to live according to the strictest practices of Islam should and are welcome to live in majority Muslim states where these are state law (States which do not afford other religions the same rights).

The Government of Sri Lanka for political mileage and cheap votes cannot be unfair by the populace in dilly dallying with matters that will affect the demography and the cultural landscape of the country.

Polygamy must be banned – Child marriage must be banned and no new cultures can become religious rights.

Shenali D Waduge

7 Responses to “Ban Polygamy in Sri Lanka”

  1. Christie Says:

    Shenali, polyandry and polygamy was part of our culture and has been practiced for a long time; but not child sex. It is the Indian colonial parasites who brought in child marriages and child sex. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is the most celebrated pedophile in the world and revered by some of us.

    Marriage was not part of our institutions and came in with the Indians and Europeans.

    Talking about child sex a relative of mine was a girl of 12 was taken away by a drug dealer and we tried our best to get her back. It was a failure and this happened about five years ago. The girl had a child and it appears she had sex with a number of men some may be of very high in our society.

    Shenali, you are batting for the Indian hegemony. In India the high caste are free to rape any girl as long as they are untouchables.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    How about goats?

    POLYGAMY, POLYANDRY, CHILD BRIDES, DIVORCE WITHOUT MAINTENANCE AND BESTIALITY must be banned.

  3. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Sinister idea behind this is multiplication. Same time the mussie man gets jolly good time. Male dominated xxxxlam,
    having several baby machines is very very good for outnumbering the natives. The job get done double quick time
    for the so called religion of violence. That’s what they did in old Buddhist iran, afganisthan, pakesthan, bangladesh,
    maldives, malaysia, indonesia. Now the mussie baby machines working overtime in Sri Lanka, india, Thailand,
    Mynmar to produce lorry loads of baby mussies. In few yes they will be votes, votes, votes. Votes means mayors,
    mps, ministers, etc. etc. etc. Crafty mussies know how to outnumber and choke the natives. Clever mussies or
    nasty, crafty mussies!

    Make 2 children to a family.
    If the governments are scared to upset mussie vote, then stop FREE education, FREE med. after 2 children.
    Mussie baby machines will stop. Or the whole world will be mussies. It is not that xxxxlam is best thing in the world.
    It is because, nobody outside xxxxlam believes the crap they clone themselves like xxxx. Surprise, surprise we
    got so many followers. Not just religion of violence. Fastest breeding religion!

  4. plumblossom Says:

    Yes only those over eighteen should be able to marry. This is true. However is this the main issue facing Sri Lanka at present or the new federal constitution? How many children marry prior to 18 in Sri Lanka? Almost none so this is not an issue of importance to Sri Lanka. Please remember that there is a huge conspiracy to highlight almost unimportant issues such as this and to somehow deny the Joint Opposition 40-50% of the moderate progressive sections of the minority vote. The same thing happened prior to January 8th 2015 and the writer also either knowingly or unknowingly is part of this conspiracy of Ranil, CBK, Mangala, Sirisena the CIA, RAW, US,UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden etc. This is so that the UNP and all other treacherous forces can win the elections but bring on a federal constitution, partition the country and destroy this country and destroy the Sinhala Buddhists as per the wishes of the CIA, RAW, US,UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden etc.

    Please remember that there is a huge conspiracy by Ranil, CBK, Mangala, Sirisena the CIA and RAW, US,EU,UK, Norway, Sweden, Canada, foreign funded NGOs etc. and even various local writers (who pretend to be patriotic but is actually quite treacherous underneath) to highlight issues which are not so important so that the moderate sections of the Sri Lankan christians, catholics, malays, muslims etc. (by this I mean around 40-50% of the minorities) be alienated from the progressive Joint Opposition come local government election time. This is a huge conspiracy to deny this 40-50% moderate patriotic minority vote to the Joint Opposition come election time (as happened during the January 8th 2015) so that the UNP and all other treacherous forces can win the elections but partition the country and destroy this country and destroy the Sinhala Buddhists as per the wishes of the CIA, RAW, US,UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden etc.

    The same thing happened prior to 8th January 2015 and it seems the UNP, CIA and RAW is again trying the same tricks again trying to bring out unimportant or not so important issues to somehow defeat the Mahinda Rajapakshe government at the time. The Joint Opposition should be very vary of this trick now being played again as before.

    The mad crazy woman CBK has again started shouting as per news items. This CBK is behind such conspiracies as I have written above so that their plan to bring on a federal constitution is made easier, Ranil the crook is off the hook, partitioning of the country can happen that much more easily etc. as per the requirement of the CIA, RAW, US etc. The Joint Opposition should be very vary of this.

    As Sri Lankans we want a unitary, state, a strong central government, no more powers to provincial councils and peace and harmony.

    Dr. Dayan Jayathilleke, being a catholic himself, also highlighted this issue in a TV programme about this conspiracy I described above. The writer also if they are for a unitary state, a strong central government and no more powers be given to provincial councils should beware of this conspiracy of the UNP, CIA, RAW and the US of partitioning this country and ultimately destroy the Sinhala Buddhists. May be the writer is also a part of the conspiracy, too.

    There are socio economic issues relating to underage pregnancies, abortions, underage marriages, teenage pregnancies, drug taking among teenagers and these are problems faced by all sections of society not just some and these issues should be handled by the relevant ministry or ministries.

  5. plumblossom Says:

    Please remember that there is a huge conspiracy to highlight almost unimportant issues such as this and to somehow deny the Joint Opposition 40-50% of the moderate progressive sections of the minority vote. The same thing happened prior to January 8th 2015 and the writer also either knowingly or unknowingly is part of this conspiracy of Ranil, CBK, Mangala, Sirisena the CIA, RAW, US,UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden etc. This is so that the UNP and all other treacherous forces can win the elections but bring on a federal constitution, partition the country and destroy this country and destroy the Sinhala Buddhists as per the wishes of the CIA, RAW, US,UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden etc.

    Please remember that there is a huge conspiracy by Ranil, CBK, Mangala, Sirisena the CIA and RAW, US,EU,UK, Norway, Sweden, Canada, foreign funded NGOs etc. and even various local writers (who pretend to be patriotic but is actually quite treacherous underneath) to highlight issues which are not so important so that the moderate sections of the Sri Lankan christians, catholics, malays, muslims etc. (by this I mean around 40-50% of the minorities) be alienated from the progressive Joint Opposition come local government election time. This is a huge conspiracy to deny this 40-50% moderate patriotic minority vote to the Joint Opposition come election time (as happened during the January 8th 2015) so that the UNP and all other treacherous forces can win the elections but partition the country and destroy this country and destroy the Sinhala Buddhists as per the wishes of the CIA, RAW, US,UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden etc.

    The same thing happened prior to 8th January 2015 and it seems the UNP, CIA and RAW is again trying the same tricks again trying to bring out unimportant or not so important issues to somehow defeat the Mahinda Rajapakshe government at the time. The Joint Opposition should be very vary of this trick now being played again as before.

    The mad crazy woman CBK has again started shouting as per news items. This CBK is behind such conspiracies as I have written above so that their plan to bring on a federal constitution is made easier, Ranil the crook is off the hook, partitioning of the country can happen that much more easily etc. as per the requirement of the CIA, RAW, US etc. The Joint Opposition should be very vary of this.

    As Sri Lankans we want a unitary, state, a strong central government, no more powers to provincial councils and peace and harmony.

    Dr. Dayan Jayathilleke, being a catholic himself, also highlighted this issue in a TV programme about this conspiracy I described above. The writer also if they are for a unitary state, a strong central government and no more powers be given to provincial councils should beware of this conspiracy of the UNP, CIA, RAW and the US of partitioning this country and ultimately destroy the Sinhala Buddhists. May be the writer is also a part of the conspiracy, too.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Rapid increases in population levels from one minority group due to multiple wives or from illegal migration or other reasons, has a strong bearing on the welfare of host countries.
    In particular, SMALL countries such as Sri Lanka, has to bear a heavy costs in terms of education & health care plus use of land and other resources by rapidly increasing minority groups, who may demand even more, such as through Tamil leaders.

    In particular, when groups considered inimical to the west increase rapidly in numbers, then the whole country may be subject to various forms of strife and censors.

    Since some minorities are due to religious groups such as Islam, Catholicism, Christianity, Hindu religion, etc., it is best that rapid increases are not encouraged.
    Free Birth Control material a must for adults everywhere in the world as difficulties are arising due to Climate Changes and wasted Resources (such as Food), increases.

    Less differences in life styles, the better for the welfare of all in Sri Lanka.

  7. S.Gonsal Says:

    Shocking babaric Muslim rules, MUST BE STOPPED if we are Buddhist

    As Sri Lanka Mulls Reforming MMDA, New Report Highlights Shocking Degrading Of Muslim Women Through Existing Act
    November 11, 2016 | Filed under: Colombo Telegraph,Featured News | Posted by: COLOMBO_TELEGRAPH

    As Sri Lanka focuses on reforming the controversial of Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) of 1951, a damning 61 page report has disclosed the many ugly sides of the MMDA in Sri Lanka, which has discriminated and rendered Muslim women less than equal as citizens in the country. The report also comes amidst calls by the European Union to amend the act and to ensure all of Sri Lanka’s laws are adhered to international conventions of which Sri Lanka is a signatory, if the country is to be granted the GSP+.Muslims Sri Lanka Colombo Telegraph

    The report titled ‘Unequal Citizens: Muslim Women’s Struggle for Justice and Equality in Sri Lanka’ by Muslim women working in the area of human rights, has exposed many instances where children as young as 14 were married off and had to suffer sexual and physical abuse in the hands of their husbands, while in many instances even getting a divorce can be challenging for women.

    The report detailing several case studies reveals how young girls were either forced into marriage, or had to undergo abuse, both physically and sexually post marriage for various reason including dowry matters. In one incident, a 15 year old girl was forced into marriage by a mosque committee citing ‘bad reputation’ even though she was not at fault and a man who had been harassing her demanding she marries him, tried to molest her after entering her home while she was changing her clothes.

    Detailing the incident the report said, “A 15-year-old girl from the Eastern province was continually harassed by a man in her village who was asking her to marry him. She kept refusing him as she was still attending school and was not interested in marriage. One day when she was alone at home, the man had entered her house and when she was changing her clothes he had tried to molest her. She had screamed and neighbors had come from outside to help her, and had found the man in her bedroom. Shortly afterwards they had taken both the girl and the man to the mosque committee, and the mosque committee had insisted that the girl marry this man on the basis that she now had a “bad reputation” and therefore that no one else would want to marry her. The girl had refused but was forced into marriage, and because it was ordered by the mosque committee her family had not objected. After marriage the man was with the girl for only one month, after which he abandoned her. The girl who had dropped out of school has been living alone and fending for herself with little family support for the past 2.5 years.”

    In another incident, a husband beat his 16 year old bride with a helmet, causing her serious injuries, because she refused to ask her mother and brother to sell the remaining property and give him a bigger dowry.

    Detailing the case, the report said, “A 16-year-old girl from the Eastern province was given in marriage to a man from the same district after he had approached her mother and brother with a marriage proposal. The man asked for a big kaikuli (dowry) so the family sold half of their plot of land and bought him a motorbike, and gave the remainder in cash as kaikuli. After the nikah she had gone to live with him. After the third day of marriage, the man had pressured the girl into asking her family to sell the remainder of their land and property and give the money to him. To this she had objected saying that her family would have no place else to live if they did so. The man then began to be severely physically abusive towards her, and on the 10th day after marriage she was attacked with a helmet causing her serious injuries so that she had to be taken to the hospital. In the hospital she said that her injuries were because she had fallen, as she was too embarrassed and scared to mention the domestic violence to anyone. The husband had then dropped her at her mother’s house and abandoned her thereafter. Now at 18 years of age, she has obtained a fasah divorce but was unable to get back any of the kaikuli except the motorbike.”

    The report highlighted that dowry is not only an un-Islamic practice, but also grievously harms Muslim women and their families and must be removed from the MMDA. However, given the current context, in order to eliminate the practice, stringent and mandatory record of all kaikuli dealings (moveable and immovable assets) must be stipulated during the marriage registration. “There also has to be clear procedures to recover kaikuli during any point of time in the marriage, separation period or divorce,” the report urged.

    The report also reveals the harrowing experience Muslim women have to undergo in the hands of the Quazi court system administers the MMDA. In another incident, it was revealed that within the first two months of marriage a woman of a minority Shi’a sect who was married to a man also from the same community, experienced emotional abuse and controlling behavior from her husband, which culminated in physical abuse as well. Unable to continue being in such a marriage, she had to separate from her husband. Despite attempts at reconciliation, the woman decided that she would not return to the marriage given her experiences of being abused but was unable to get a fasah divorce under the MMDA as the law of the sect requires the consent of the husband for divorce, regardless of circumstance. She received strong support from her family, community and religious leaders in this regard and they put immense pressure on the husband to permit the divorce. However despite this the husband did not grant her a divorce for three years simply because he was able to withhold it as a right granted to him by (unwritten) provisions in the law pertaining to the sect.

    In another incident, a girl in the Eastern province was married at the age of 14 after her schooling was stopped. After a few months of marriage she applied for fasah divorce due to severe sexual torture by her husband. The Quazi instead of dealing with the case in a sensitive and appropriate manner chose to interrogate her for over two hours asking her specific details about the sexual violence, which in turn caused the girl further psychological trauma so that she attempted suicide and faced severe depression.

    The report demanded that the Sri Lanka State needs to ensure that the minimum age of marriage is 18 years for all citizens regardless of religion or ethnicity. Also since, Islamic legal jurisprudence does not stipulate a particular age and some scholars even considers setting any age limit not permissible, it is therefore imperative that government takes responsibility for setting the minimum age of marriage as it does for all other citizens.

    “Regardless of the number of cases, whether isolated or many, child marriage is unacceptable and for the Muslim community this needs to be addressed by removing the legal cover that MMDA accords,” the report said.

    The report also criticized those who are not in favor of setting a minimum age of marriage for Muslims, who often give the example of some states in the United States of America that has a low minimum age of marriage as an attempt to call out the ‘hypocrisy of the West’ on child rights. “However, the fact that Muslim majority countries such as Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and Lebanon have set a minimum age of marriage in keeping with international human rights standards are never considered in the same vein,” the report revealed.

    The report also said that Muslim politicians, religious leaders, as well as some individuals and organizations in support of MMDA reforms believe that the minimum age of marriage for Muslims should be decided from within the Muslim community and mandated by the MMDA. However, the minimum age of marriage is a contested topic even within the Muslim community and is highly subjective, dependent upon the theological viewpoint of the various parties supporting or opposing the establishment of a minimum age.

    “Therefore, in the current context, it is unlikely that all the stakeholders in the Muslim community in Sri Lanka would agree and reach consensus on raising the minimum age of marriage to 18 years and deciding that the State should set the minimum age of marriage for all citizens. It is important for the Sri Lankan state to recognize and protect the rights of all citizens to enjoy his/her culture, traditions and freedom of religion. However in provisions such as establishing a minimum age of marriage – it is the responsibility of the State to ensure that child rights are not compromised in the name of culture and religion,” the report said.

    Sri Lanka is a party to the Convention on Rights of the Child (CRC)24 and Convention for Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) among other international human rights instruments, and is thus required to adhere to global benchmarks on child rights and women’s rights. The CRC recognizes anyone under the age of 18 as children and explicitly states in Article 2 that no child can be treated unfairly on any basis including religion, ethnicity or gender. Article 19 of the CRC also states that children need to be protected from all forms of violence, including “from being hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally”. As per CEDAW, early and forced marriage is considered a “harmful practice” that the state needs to take serious action to reduce and eliminate.

    “Clearly the status quo with respect to MMDA is untenable. There are serious shortcomings in the law and in its implementation. This has had an adverse impact on the rights and wellbeing of women and girls in the community. Constitutional provisions like Article 16(1) have prevented those affected from being able to seek redress against discriminatory aspects of the law and has rendered Muslim women less than equal as citizens. The struggle of Muslim women for reform against heavy odds has been led by few committed activists, admirable and long suffering but also riven with limitations,” the report said.

    The report highlighted that in Sri Lanka, the government has the primary duty to address issues faced by Muslims under the MMDA and the Quazi court system, which was established, administered and is funded by the state.

    “The Sri Lankan government has foremost responsibility to ensure that State laws protect the rights of citizens and is not in turn causing discrimination and injustice on the basis of gender and religion. In this regard the Sri Lankan government cannot grant any religious or ethnic group the onus to decide on whether or not the individual and fundamental rights of citizens can be forgone in the name of the cultural and religious rights of the group to which they are affiliated. Especially so in a democratic state that has secular laws, which by default, should apply for each and every citizen. On certain issues such as minimum age of marriage, the Sri Lankan government is mandated to establish an age that is suitable for all citizens and protect child rights and promote education, health and wellbeing. Putting perceived cultural and religious rights before child rights and legally allowing for Muslim minors to be given in marriage at an earlier age and legally exempting their protection under the Constitution and Penal Code is a serious violation of this State responsibility,” the report underscored.

    The report also highlighted that Muslim women in Sri Lanka are facing grave issues under the MMDA not because of their religious affiliation, but as a result of patriarchy and power that has used a religious and legal basis to disqualify women from equal protection under the law and reinforce subordination of women. “Therefore, the argument that amendments to the MMDA will negate Muslim identity is one that reinforces this patriarchal notion and threatens the status quo, which privileges Muslim men above women,” the report added.

    The report has been developed by Hyshyama Hamin and Hasanah Cegu Isadeen. Hamin is gender consultant and independent researcher, while Isadeen is a lawyer and activist. (By Munza Mushtaq )

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