PETALING JAYA: The closure of the shariah court during lockdown and amid the rise in domestic abuse cases and divorces is having a huge impact on Muslims in the country, says a lawyers group.
In a statement, Persatuan Peguam Syarie Malaysia said this is why it was urging the government to allow the shariah court and legal firms to operate during the lockdown.
The association’s president Musa Awang said the shariah court handles matters beyond marriage and divorce, but also issues of domestic abuse, applications for injunctions against physical harassment, injunctions related to property, custody battles, and interim custody orders.
Musa said it was previously reported that 6,569 divorces were registered in the first three months after the first movement control order (MCO) came into force on March 18, 2020.
Among the reasons for the rise in divorces, he said, were financial issues, a loss of income, unemployment, and stress.
“Affected parties should be able to refer their matter to a shariah court or shariah judge. This is important to ensure the matter can be resolved in a timely and appropriate fashion, so that it does not cause other problems.”
Musa said domestic abuse cases also increased under MCO with police statistics showing 5,260 cases reported last year.
This, he said, highlights the need for the shariah court and legal firms to be allowed to open.
He said that in cases of domestic abuse, victims could reach out to a shariah lawyer who could advise on their options and what they can do to protect themselves.
This includes getting an interim protection order and matters related to divorce.
The closure of the shariah court, Musa said, also prevents people from seeking claims related to debt, division of property due to a death, and liquidation of assets, among others.
Musa said the shariah court does not necessarily have to operate physically, and that it can function virtually.