“Allah orders justice, kindness and good conduct. He forbids injustice, immorality and oppression”. [Al-Quran 16:90]
Muslims in Sri Lanka have an Act governing marriage and divorce – the 1951 Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA), as well as a separate Quazi court system that administers the MMDA. However, over the years of implementation, it has come to light that there are numerous discriminatory and unequal provisions within the MMDA. As well as clear evidence that the Quazi court system is gravely inferior to the national court systems that other Sri Lankan citizens can access with regard to family matters.
Muslim Personal Law (MPL) Reforms Action Group is advocating that the all Muslims in Sri Lanka have equal access to legal rights, justice and redress on matters of marriage and divorce. As citizens of Sri Lanka Muslims too must have the same protection of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. It must be ensured that special laws such as the MMDA too protect the fundamental rights of Muslim men, women and children rather than perpetrate injustice, unfair treatment and further place members of the Muslim community, especially Muslim women, in vulnerable and difficult situations.
MPL Reforms Action Group therefore advocates that:
- The MMDA must be reformed to guarantee justice and fairness as promoted by the Islamic law, to address ongoing grievances of Muslims and relation to current context;
- The MMDA reforms process must ensure that the MMDA guarantees equal treatment for and protection of rights of men and women, and that the Quazi court system is brought on par to the secular court system;
- The new constitution of Sri Lanka must unconditionally guarantee fundamental rights of Sri Lankan Muslims and repeal Article 16(1);
- The constitutional reforms process must incorporate concerns of the Muslim community with regard to the MMDA and make necessary amendments to guarantee that the Constitution and related state laws cannot deny any rights and protections to Sri Lanka Muslims and any community on the basis of religious affiliation and gender.
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