FGM: It happens in Malaysia too

Publication Date: 
February 3, 2011
The Malaysian Insider
File photo of a traditional surgeon holding razor blades before carrying out female genital mutilation on teenage girls -Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — Female genital mutilation (FGM) is not a familiar custom in Malaysia. FGM is synonymous with the Middle East and African countries, and is a shocking and barbaric practice. A number of academics and researchers have expressed concern over what seems to be a growing prevalence of FGM in Malaysia.

Malaysia: Why Some Women Wear a Hijab and Some Don’t

Publication Date: 
April 18, 2011
Wall Street Journal
The director, Norhayati Kaprawi, at a screening of her new documentary in February

In Malaysia, which is predominantly Muslim, some women wear the hijab, a head scarf that shows the face but covers the hair, ears and neck. And some do not. A new documentary, “Siapa Aku?” or “Who Am I?” by Norhayati Kaprawi, a young Muslim woman, explores the reasons why.

Malaysia: Nazreen Nizam of Sisters in Islam laments Malaysian regression in rights

Publication Date: 
April 13, 2011
Malaysian Muslims recite prayers during a ceremony on the first day of Moharram, which marks the start the Muslim new year.

BANGKOK (TrustLaw) – Malaysia is considered a tolerant, progressive and successful developing Muslim nation; its capital is a gleaming metropolis with one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world.

Yet the politicisation of religion in recent years has led to a regression in gender rights under the country’s Islamic Family Law, a prominent women’s rights group, which is aiming to reform the legislation, told TrustLaw.

Zainah Anwar - In search of what Islam really says

Publication Date: 
March 8, 2011
The Star
The Quran, as the word of God, shows that Islam is a religion that treats both men and women with kindness, love and compassion.

The nation’s leading Muslim feminist activist explains what drove her to open the Quran and search for answers to what it means to be Muslim and feminist.

I AM an eternal optimist. I cannot believe that anyone would not want a world where everyone is treated as a human being of equal worth and dignity. I don’t understand why this should be a problem. I don’t understand how anyone can use God to justify injustice and oppression of half of the human race. And yet, religion, be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, is often used to justify discrimination against women.

Islam’s religious pluralism in context

Publication Date: 
February 8, 2011
New Straits Times

The question of whether Islam accepts religious pluralism depends on an understanding of the term and hinges on the Quranic verses, writes Mohamad Hashim Kamali. 

THE current debate as to whether Islam accepts religious pluralism as opposed to mere religious plurality calls for further reflection. Much would depend, it seems, on how one understands religious pluralism and then the three Quranic verses that characterise Islam.

One Day One Struggle: International Campaign to Promote Sexual and Bodily Rights across Muslim Societies

Publication Date: 
November 9, 2010
Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR) / Women for Women's Human Rights (WWHR)
One Day One Struggle Campaign

On November 9, 2010, the 2nd international “One Day One Struggle” Campaign to promote sexual and bodily rights in Muslim societies will take place in 12 countries across Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia. With diverse, groundbreaking actions and events, almost 50 participating Human Rights organizations, Universities and Municipalities will simultaneously call for public attention to issues like Right to Information, Sexuality Education, Sexual Health, Bodily Autonomy and Sexual Rights of Individuals, LGBTTQ Rights, Sexual Diversity and Islam, Sexuality and Shari’a as well as the struggle to stop sexual rights violations ranging from Polygamy to killings of women, gay people and transsexuals.

Malaysia: Way of the middle path

Publication Date: 
November 7, 2010
Sharing the Nation (The Star)
One with the people: Najib shaking hands with the crowd during the launch of ‘Little India’ in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

Political leaders must work together to delegitimise extreme and intolerant voices. The public cannot be given mixed and confusing signals.

Update: Uncertain Role for Female Shariah Judges in Malaysia

Publication Date: 
July 14, 2010
New York Times
Rafidah Abdul Razak & Suraya Ramli, two newly appointed Syariah Court judges, during press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR — Women’s groups have applauded the recent appointment of two female judges to Islamic courts in , but its significance is not yet clear: The new judges will have to wait a month before finding out whether they will be prevented from hearing certain cases.

Malaysia appoints first female judges in Islamic courts

Publication Date: 
July 8, 2010
Associated Press


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia's Islamic Shariah courts have appointed their first female judges — a move praised by women's rights activists Thursday as a boost for a judicial system often accused of favoring men.

Suraya Ramli and Rafidah Abdul Razak, formerly officials at the government's Islamic judicial department, were named Shariah court judges for Kuala Lumpur and the administrative capital of Putrajaya in May, but the appointment was only announced in the past week by Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Malaysia: Islamic Courts Appoint First Female Judges

Publication Date: 
July 8, 2010
Muslim women in Malaysia can suffer long delays in the Islamic courts

The decision by the Malaysian government to appoint women judges to its Islamic courts has been welcomed by Muslim feminist groups. 

The group based in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, told the BBC it had been pressing for this for many years.

The government said the new judges were part of its sharia reform efforts.

Malaysia runs two parallel legal systems - the civil courts for its non-Muslim citizens and the Islamic system.

"We've been calling for the appointment of women to the sharia courts since the late 1990s," said Ratna Osman, head of the legal unit of SIS, an influential Muslim women's group.

"When you have all male judges, there is some insensitivity - the more so when they are listenining to women's grievances," she said.