Open Letter to Members of MPL Reforms Committee

Members of the Muslim Personal Law (MPL) Reform Committee: Justice Saleem Marsoof, Ms. Dilhara Amerasinghe, Justice Abdus.W.A. Salam. Hon. Mohamed Mackie, Mr. Shibly Aziz, Mr. Faisz Musthapha, Professor Sharya Scharenguivel, Dr. M.A.M. Shukri, Ash-Sheik Mohomead Magdoom Ahmad Mubarak, Ash-Sheik M.I.M Rizwe Mufthi, Deshabandu Mrs. Jezima Ismail, Mrs. Safana Gul Begum, Mrs. Fazlet Shahabdeen, Mr Razmara Abdeen, Mr. Nadvi Bahaudeen and Ms Farzana Jurampathy  

Dear Committee Members,

Do right by the women and children of the Muslim Community

We write to present the demands of our group who have in different capacities engaged with the struggle of Muslim women who continue to be discriminated, disadvantaged and also abused under the cover of the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act of 1951(MMDA).

The demands set out here respond to the day to day experience of Muslim women and heeds their desperate calls for change being made for over three decades. It also resonates with the views publicly expressed by many others including Islamic religious scholars and progressive leaders for example the recent article by Ameer M Faaiz on 29th October 2016[1], public statement by scholar M. B. M. Firdows Naleemi from Kathankuddi Bismi Quranic School, who also supports women being in Quazi positions. It also resonates to a large extent with the statement by the Kandy Forum on 20th November 2016, Colombo Telegraph.

In presenting these demands to you, as a Member of the Committee currently deliberating reform to the (MMDA), we request you:

  1. To reflect the urgent concerns raised by us in your deliberations and favourably consider our demands.
  2. To record your dissent and vote your conscience if you hold a minority view in the Committee as a result of holding or taking a position similar to these demands. The pressure for consensus within the committee may be strong but in this debate on MMDA reform, you would appreciate, it has always compromised the victims of the MMDA.  This should not be another one of those compromised and lost opportunities for genuine reform beyond cosmetic tinkering at the edges.
  3. To refuse to endorse the final report if it includes any recommendations that you do not fully consent to and consider issuing a minority report if the need be. 

We urge you not to let broad and vague considerations of “protecting the community” or positions taken purely in the interest of male privilege to continue to deny Muslim women their dignity and equality. We urge you to consider reforming the MMDA so that it is truly reflective of compassion, peace and dignity afforded to Muslim women and children.

Thanking you.

Yours truly,

Muslim Personal Law Reforms Action Group (MPLRAG) 

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