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NewsSri Lanka: Campaing for ensuring equal rights for Muslim women gets broader support

Sri Lanka: Campaing for ensuring equal rights for Muslim women gets broader support

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We the undersigned find the recent statements of the Chairperson of the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), that reform of the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) is not needed, to be unacceptable.

It is patently clear that the ACJU has contributed to the 8-year delay in the reform process despite the desperate need for substantive reform of this law. Furthermore, the recently released submissions of the ACJU on MMDA reform, completely ignores the present day lived realities of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka.

For example, it shocks our conscience that Islamic jurisprudence is misinterpreted to justify child marriage and prevent women being appointed as Quazi judges. Their arguments go to the extent of suggesting that any person appointing a woman as a Quazi is “sinning”, such appointments are invalid and her judgments “carry no weight”.

These stances are misogynistic, discriminatory and archaic, not merely in present day Sri Lanka but for any part of the world.

In light of this latest objection to any law reform by ACJU, we state the following: To the members of the MPL Reforms Committee:

We are deeply disappointed that the 2009 MPL Reforms Committee chaired by Justice Saleem Marsoof continues to permit the deliberations on reform to be delayed and allows itself to be held hostage in this unreasonable manner by a few extremist members who do not represent all the Muslims in the country.

The call for the release of the report on reforms has been made throughout 2016, but to no avail. Now it appears that people opposed to reforms like the ACJU who have access to the draft report are using it to mobilise opposition and to discredit the report in public. Allowing only ACJU to have access to the report and run a public campaign against it not only imperils the Committee’s process, but is also disadvantageous to other stakeholders, including women’s groups, who do not yet have access to the findings of the report.

In light of recent events, we strongly urge the Committee to finalize the reforms report, record dissenting views if any, and release the report to the public without any further delay.

To Muslim and non-Muslim political leaders:

We are appalled at the continued silence of Muslim political leaders to the statements issued and documents released by the ACJU. Their lackadaisical attitude towards and lack of leadership in addressing the Muslim personal law reforms is prolonging the injustices faced by Muslim women and girls. As a result of their silence we believe we are in danger of letting the thinking of unelected and unrepresentative organizations that take positions based on narrow and literal interpretations of the Islamic text and tradition to determine the future of the Sri Lankan Muslim community. (Statement Release: 4/4/2017 Statement initiated by MPLRAG – www.mplreforms.com 2/2 )

Their statements and submissions amount to sanctioning of discrimination and inequality through state-sanctioned institutions and processes. We reiterate the urgent need for the political leaders to focus their attention on the reforms process, recognize the diversity of view points within the Muslim community and to respond without any further delay to do right by the women and girl children of the Muslim community.

We urge all political leaders to speak out against abusive practices, against the threats faced by Muslim women raising these issues and to respond positively to the urgent need for reform of the MMDA.

To the Sri Lankan State:

It is a fact that the MMDA and the Quazi court system, was established, administered and is funded by the State. The MMDA is enacted as a statute and judgments made through the Quazi court system are legally binding and enforceable only by the authority of the State.

Therefore the Sri Lankan State has the foremost responsibility to ensure that State laws protect rights of citizens and are not in-turn causing gender based violence, discrimination and injustice.

We urge the Sri Lankan government and all relevant state authorities to question the delay in addressing these problems and to recognize that the marginalized voices of women and girls of the Muslim community also constitute a valid community position. Beyond ensuring MMDA reforms, the State must without further delay and as per 2017 CEDAW Committee recommendations:

  •  Repeal Article 16(1) of the Constitution to introduce judicial review of all laws;
  •  Amend the General Marriage Registration Ordinance to ensure that Muslim women have the free choice to opt out from the Muslim Personal Law, so as to be registered under the general law;  Increase the minimum age of marriage for all to 18 years of age;
  • Eliminate any restriction on women’s eligibility to be appointed as Quazis, as Members of the Board of Quazis, Marriage Registrars and adjudicators; and,
  •  Amend article 363 of the Penal Code to ensure that the crime of statutory rape applies to all girls under the age of 16, without exception. MMDA reforms are about accountability to the Muslim women and girls who are most affected by the Act and Quazi court system, and who are at the center of the call for reform. Within an admittedly male dominated and patriarchal political space, there is an urgent need to act responsibly, promptly and with accountability towards those to whom these reforms matter most.

The call is simple – Do the right thing and do it now!

Statement Release: 4/4/2017 Statement initiated by MPLRAG – www.mplreforms.com 1/3 mwpf;u;

ENDORSEMENTS: GROUPS, ORGANIZATIONS AND NETWORKS

1. Muslim Personal Law Reforms Action Group (MPLRAG)

2. Muslim Women’s Development Trust (MWDT) – Puttalam

3. Human Elevation Organization – Ampara

4. Mannar Women’s Development Federation (MWDF) – Mannar

5. Rural Development Foundation (RWF) – Vavuniya

6. Women and Media Collective

7. Women in Need (WIN) 8. Women’s Action Network (WAN)

9. Suriya Women’s Development Center – Batticaloa

10. Law and Society Trust (LST)

11. The Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice

12. Foundation of Goodness (FoG)

13. AFRIEL Youth Network

14. Dabindu Collective

15. Hashtag Generation

INDIVIDUALS 1. M C Rasmin 2. Mr. Ikram Mohamed – President’s Counsel 3. Mohamed Fayis Zamruth Jahan – Lawyer – Trincomalee 4. Jumana Apoofakkar – Mullaitivu 5. Raseeka Rajabdeen – Mullaitivu 6. Juwariya Mohideen – MWDT – Puttalam 7. L. Shahira – Puttalam (LLB) – MWDT – Puttalam 8. M.F Farminaz (BA) – Activist – Puttalam 9. M.F Fahima – Activist – Puttalam 10. R.U.S.E Vinojini – MWDT – Puttalam 11. M. Ramziya – Puttalam 12. Janusa Noordeen – Mullaitivu 13. Dr. Sepali Kottegoda – Women and Media Collective 14. Jeseera Mansoor – Mullaitivu 15. Jansila Majeed – Mullaitivu 16. Badhurdheen Mohammed Fairos 17. Mr.A.C.M.Rumaiz – Executive Director, Child vision sri lanka 18. A.H.M. Hassan – Puttalam 19. F.H.F.Finos – Puttalam 20. Vanamali Kaushalya Galappatti – Programme Officer 21. Praveen Kariyawasam – Management Accountant 22. H.S.Hazeera begum – Kottanthivu 23. H.M.Sumaiya – Puttalam 24. Kumari Jayawardene 25. Camena Guneratne – Professor Open University of Sri Lanka. 26. Tehani Ariyaratne 27. Duvindi Illankoon – Researcher 28. J.farwin – Puttalam 29. M.H.safana – Puttalam 30. M.L.Dawdeen – Project Manager, Change Humanitarian Organisation – Puttalam. 31. N.M.marsook – Puttalam 32. Rishani Wijesinghe – Communications 33. Subha Wijesiriwardena – Writer, Blogger, Activist 34. Anushani Alagarajah – Women Action Network (WAN) 35. Herman Kumara – National Fisheries Solidarity Movement Statement Release: 4/4/2017 Statement initiated by MPLRAG – www.mplreforms.com 2 36. N.M.Bareera – Puttalam. 37. M.F.F.Sufiyani – Puttalam 38. M.I. Rinosha – Puttalam. 39. A.M.M.Ibnu – Puttalam. 40. H.K.Fathima Rameesa – Chilaw. 41. MS.M.Musthakeem – Puttalam 42. Y. Rinosa – Ampara 43. M.A. Fathima – Ampara 44. A.L Anvara – Ampara 45. Senel Wanniarachchi – Hashtag Generation 46. Priyanthi Fernando 47. Dinushika Dissanayake – Attorney-at-law 48. Dilshani Fernando – Clinical Research Associate 49. Damayanthi Muthukumaranage – Human Rights Activist 50. K. Andrews 51. Tharaka Premaratne – Foundation of Goodness 52. M.H.Maisoora, Treasurer, – Al.Ikra Society. Puttalam 53. Bisliya Bhuto – Puttalam. 54. Dr C.I.M.H Soofi – DMO divisional hospital irakkamam 55. Mrs Zeena Ikram Mohamed 56. Nilshan Fonseka 57. Kamani Jinadasa – Consultant 58. Mr Saadi Wadood (LLM) – Attorney-at-law 59. Mr Milhan Ikram Mohamed (LLM) – Attorney-at-law 60. Mrs Zahara Vilcassim 61. Binendri Perera – University of Colombo 62. Piyumini Jayawardena – Legal Officer, Colombo Stock Exchange 63. Thilini Prasadika – Temporary Assistant Lecturer 64. Deanne Uyangoda – Attorney-at-law 65. Venuri De Silva – Project Manager, National Peace Council 66. K. J. Brito Fernando – President, Families of the Disappeared 67. Nadya Perera – Independent researcher and filmmaker 68. Sashee de Mel – Civil Society Activist 69. K. Aingkaran, Attorney at Law 70. Amana Zahid – Student 71. Dr. Farah Mihlar 72. Ameer Faaiz – Attorney-at-law 73. Mrs Sabeena Khatri – Teacher 74. Sajeda Akbarally 75. Nisreen Rehmanjee 76. Abdullah Muhsin – Content Specialist 77. Hasanah Cegu Isadeen – Attorney-at-law 78. Florine Marzook 79. C I Azziyan – Director 80. Sara Raffa Jalaldeen – Programme Manager – Rainbow Family Child Support Programme 81. Sabra Zahid – Attorney-at-law 82. S. Sumithra – Researcher and Activist 83. Carol D’Souza – Lecturer 84. Shashika Bandara – Masters Student 85. Marisa de Silva – Activist 86. Balasingham Skanthakumar – Social Scientists Association 87. Lilanka Botejue 88. Dr. Isabelle Lassée – Head of Programmes, SACLS 89. Natasha Burhan – Legal Advisor 90. Harshani Connel – Law and Society Trust 91. Cayathri Divakalala – Independent Researcher 92. Kumudini Samuel – Women and Media Collective 93. Amalini De Sayrah – CPA 94. Tanisha Panditharatne 95. Kavitha Dinesh – Accountant Statement Release: 4/4/2017 Statement initiated by MPLRAG – www.mplreforms.com 3 96. Ruki Fernando – Activist 97. Vasuki Jeyasankar – Women’s rights activist, Batticaloa 98. Gowthaman Balachandran 99. Thilini Perera – Designer 100. Dr. Chiranthie Hapuaratchige 101. Harean Hettiarachchi 102. Chris Abeysekera – Business Development Manager 103. Shermal Wijewardene – Researcher 104. Krisanth Ganeshan 105. Tanuja Thurairajah – Programme Officer 106. Dilhara Pathirana – Law and Society Trust 107. Thiyagaraja Waradas – Activist 108. Savini Ganhewa 109. Jake Oorloff – Artist 110. Anukshi Jayasinha – Roar Media 111. Savindri Talgodapitiya 112. Sumathy Sivamohan 113. Sudharshini Namasivayam- Attorney at Law 114. Sheila Richards 115. Shalinda Fernando – 116. Hansini Munasinghe – University of Iowa 117. Sukitha Cooray 118. Shenalie Weerasekera 119. Harini Amarasuriya, Open University of Sri Lanka 120. Asmitha de Silva – Student 121. D. Dias Bandaranaike – Journalist 122. Rakhitha Withanage 123. Nadie Kammallaweera – Actor 124. Thakshala Tissera – University of Colombo 125. Naomi Wijesinha 126. Saroj Pathirana – Journalist 127. Sachini de silva – Senior Merchandiser 128. Anoli Perera – Independent Artist 129. Gitanjali Marcelline 130. Hans Billimoria – The Grassrooted Trust 131. Sumika Perera – Women’s Resource Centre, Kurunegala 132. Denver Peterson 133. Honeida Packeer – Women’s Association of Sri Lanka Malays (WASLAM) 134. Leileen Hamin – Women’s Association of Sri Lanka Malays (WASLAM) 135. Azra Abdul Cader – Researcher and Activist 136. Sarah Kellapatha – Website Coordinator 137. Nushka Nafeel – Journalist 138. Mujeebur Rahman P.M – Journalist 139. Irfadha Muzammil – Interior Designer 140. Zahrah Imtiaz – Journalist 141. Nadira Abdul Cader – Founder/ Directo 142. Rehana Thowfeek – Researcher 143. Ermiza Tegal – Attorney – at – law 144. Fathima Shazna – Doctor 145. Hyshyama Hamin – Gender consultant / Researcher 146. Mahaluxmy Karushananthan – Women’s rights activist – Jaffna 147. Thusithra Jeyakanthan – Jaffna 148. Lishanthy Mycheal – Jaffna 149. Gehan Gunatilleke – Attorney at Law 150. Pubudu Pathirana – Coordinating Manager 151. Malik Gunatilleke 152. Marianne David – Deputy Editor – Daily FT 153. Nalika G – Professor 154. Vindhya Buthpitiya – Independent Researcher Statement Release: 4/4/2017 Statement initiated by MPLRAG – www.mplreforms.com 4 155. Nasreen Marzook – Free Lance Hijab Stylist and MUA 156. Mutiara Tegal – Architect 157. Shreen Abdul Saroor – Mannar Women’s Development Federation (MWDF) 158. Zainab Ibrahim – Researcher 159. Deeyah Khan – International activist, filmmaker, founder of Fuuse & sister-hood magazine 160. C I Azzuhoor – Kilakkin Eluchchi 161. Subashiny Thirukumaran – Jaffna 162. Koncika Mariyanesan – Jaffna 163. Valanteena Mayooran – Jaffna 164. Joanne Payton – Researcher on Violence against women, Lecturer Cardiff University 165. Kasun Yatawara – Account Manager 166. Lakwi Perera 167. Rasika Nanayakkara 168. Sandun Thudugala – Social Activist 169. R.Sivapragasam – Project Manager 170. Maleeha Ifthy – Medical student 171. Maas Misha’ari Weerabangsa – PhD Student, University of Nottingham (Malaysia) 172. Mohamad Salaf – Multidisciplinary Designer 173. Mohammed Sadaath – Social Activist 174. Sithy Indranie Tegal – Director 175. Fathima Hazlina Hafi 176. Sachini Perera 177. Maneshka Borham – Lake House 178. Kanishka Gunawardena – Attorney at law 179. W O M Fernando 180. Anushka Kahandagama 181. Anithra Varia – Grant Writer 182. Letchumanan Kamaleswary – Programme officer 183. Premila Nagulrswaran 184. Uzmila Fayaz 185. Sunela Jayewardene 186. Udeni Thewarapperuma – Attorney-at-law 187. Nigel De Zilwa – Director 188. Keshini Dias Sumanasekera – Attorney at Law 189. Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala – Independent Researcher 190. Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole 191. Dr . Nirmala Chandrahasan – Lawyer 192. Jeeva Perumalpillai-Essex – Economist 193. Thyagi Ruwanpathirana – Researcher 194. Shalha Latiff – Student 195. Anushaya Collure 196. Shenali De Silva – Lawyer 197. Gayasha Wijesiriwardane – Production Executive 198. Maulie de Saram – Hospitality Professional. 199. Shehara Fernando – 200. Madihah Afeez – Doctor 201. Azra Jiffry – Law student 202. Sabeera Cader – LLB (IIUM) 203. Heba Husain 204. Mariyam Fahim – Student 205. Shifan Ahmed 206. Ashraaq Wahab – Deputy Editor 207. Mohamed Yaseen Hasan Khan 208. Piyumika Pathirana 209. Swan Jayawardena – Foundation of Goodness 210. Abdullah Mohideen – Support Specialist 211. Avanti Esufally – Company Director 212. Minha Akram – Design Director Statement Release: 4/4/2017 Statement initiated by MPLRAG – www.mplreforms.com 5 213. Ameena Hussein – Writer and Publisher 214. Vino Ganeshan – Jaffna 215. Arulseeli Parunanthu – Jaffna 216. Sathiya Sivakanapathy – Jaffna 217. Mariyaratnam Anthonippillai – Jaffna 218. T. Samarasinha – Attorney – at – law 219. Pushpa Ramlani – Independent Researcher and Gender Consultant 220. Anisha Gunaratna 221. Zainab Fahim – Auditor 222. Fathima Razik Cader – Journalist (Print and Electronic) 223. Mohamed Shakeel Irfan 224. Rizvi Farhaan 225. Surajdeen Seiyad – Director 226. Safiya Husain 227. Amaarah Kellapatha 228. Sifani Hassen – Homemaker 229. Rizna Uvais – Psychologist 230. Shamil Nilafer – Head of Foreign Equity Sales & Trading 231. Abu Ahmed Faijul Kabir 232. Abdul Rasak Mohamed Rifas – SLBC (Media) – Correspondent 233. Nazeeha Ali – Consultant 234. Rizwan Razak – MSc. Student 235. Mariam Wadood – Attorney-at-law 236. A Ismail – Writer 237. Farzana Haniffa – University of Colombo 238. Rathu S. Hamin 239. Shamlah Hameed – Doctor 240. Amreen Ameen – Housewife 241. Aasif Faiz – Creative Director 242. Harshani Fernando- Student 243. Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke – Associate Artistic Director, Mind Adventures Theatre 244. Ellen Meredith 245. Ishara Naotunna 246. Palavinnage Kasun Chathuranga Muthukumarana – Student 247. Bianca Perera – Airline staff 248. Themal Ellawala – Student 249. SCC Elankovan – Independent Consultant 250. Dr. Shanali Perera 251. Oshada Nissanka – Accounting Graduate 252. Stephanie Nicolle – Student 253. Indrani Rajendran – Independant Consultant 254. Anuratha Rajaretnam – Coordinator 255. Sindu Sivayogam 256. Harenn Durgabakshi 257. Wasaam Ismail – General Manager – Loops Solutions 258. Nuzaifa Hussain – Communications Manager 259. Shajana Shahjahan 260. Atham Bawa Abdul Gafoor – Socio Economic Renaissance Organization, Nintavur 261. Hania Luthufi – Student 262. Fathima Nuzha Farook – Student 263. Fazia Faris – MTV/MBC 264. Shaziya Kaleel – Marketing Communications Manager 265. Rehab Mahamoor – Lawyer 266. Nuzla Nafeel – Student 267. Asnah Anver – Student 268. Mohamed Mafaz – Student 269. Aamina Nizar – Photographer 270. Fahla Saibukandu – Legal Associate Statement Release: 4/4/2017 Statement initiated by MPLRAG – www.mplreforms.com 6 271. Savithri Wijesekera – Attorney at law, Member National Police Commission 272. Rosanna Flamer-Caldera 273. Tasneem Perry – University of Manchester 274. M Z Dole 275. N M M Fazrin – Student 276. Sumaiya Pallak – Activist 277. Munza Mushtaq – Journalist 278. Zahabia Adamaly – Independent Researcher 279. Nabila Imtiaz 280. Mizly Nizar 281. Fazlul Haq Seyed Finos 282. Shaharaz Suhail – Accountant 283. Anne Abbas – Manager Administration 284. Rimaz Marzook – Coach 285. Fazra Zulfikar – Housewife 286. Shazna Salih – Student 287. Nafeel Rauf – Teacher 288. Rajany Rajeswary – Jaffna 289. Tharshan S – Jaffna 290. Asha Maria – Jaffna 291. Pnina Gammie – Teacher 292. J.R. Ferdinands 293. Yves Bowie – Musician 294. Shirantha WG – Communications Consultant 295. Marcelle Moran – University of Queensland 296. Sajeewa Somananda 297. Hemelatha – Jaffna 298. Shaming V – Jaffna 299. Luwie Niranjan – Attorney-at-Law 300. UL Geeganage 301. Rajeena Nafeel – Housewife 302. Saajid Musthak – Student 303. Munira Mutaher 304. Mirak Raheem 305. Shyamala Sivagurunathan 306. Sanda De Silva 307. S.Sivagurunathan – Board Member, Movement for the Defence of Democratic Rights(MDDR) 308. Shwetha Srikanthan – Student

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