Focus on shariah family laws first, urges Sisters in Islam

Sisters in Islam says many states were unwilling to stop underage marriages and the federal government must push them to standardise family laws. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: The pressure group Sisters In Islam has called for federal action to end child marriages and standardise shariah laws on family matters instead of concentrating on criminal laws.

SIS said only a few states are committed to ending child marriages, with many other states refusing to do so despite a directive from Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad last year.

Islamic family law was “in shambles”, the organisation said, giving the example of laws amended in 1994 that allowed Muslims to marry illegally without a court’s permission.

The group said the laws had resulted in new marriages being secretly solemnised in Thailand.

The group also criticised the provisions for polygamous marriages for causing “devastating” damage to families.

The SIS statement was made in response to plans announced by Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs, to create a uniform code of shariah criminal laws for all states.

Each state now has its own set of shariah criminal laws, with differing punishments for different offences.

SIS said the announcement yesterday “proves that political will and strong leadership are all it takes in order for the process of standardisation to take place”.