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NewsSituation AnalysisSri Lanka: Take immediate steps to reform the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) – Civil Society Statement

Sri Lanka: Take immediate steps to reform the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) – Civil Society Statement

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06th August, 2019.

Civil Society Statement in support of Reforming the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act

We, the undersigned civil society organisations and individuals urge the Government of Sri Lanka to take immediate steps to reform the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA). The failure to reform the MMDA has been a long-standing issue that successive governments have not addressed, and this has had a dire impact on the Muslim community, in particular women and children. In taking this process forward, the Sri Lankan State will finally ensure greater protection and equality for the Muslim citizens of this country.

The MMDA as it currently stands has a number of drawbacks, particularly those relating to the age of marriage, the lack of mutual consent for marriage and divorce, and the serious limitations of the existing Quazi court system. Failure to address these problems places women in a vulnerable position and undercuts their right to equality as guaranteed by the Constitution of Sri Lanka. In other countries that have personal law systems similar to the MMDA, there have been efforts to reform such laws. Countries ranging from Afghanistan to Malaysia have taken measures to amend existing provisions, such as increasing the age of marriage and appointing female Quazis. Yet, in post-independence Sri Lanka, there has been no such progress.

The call for reforms has been longstanding. For at least thirty years, Muslim women’s groups and academics have advocated for both partial and comprehensive reforms. Successive governments appointed at least five different committees but the State failed to take action. The last committee, appointed in 2009, headed by Justice Saleem Marsoof carried out consultations for 9 years before presenting their findings and recommendations in early 2018. In July 2019, in a salutary move, the Muslim Members of Parliament agreed on 14 recommendations towards reform but once again it appears that there are moves to stymie reform.

The Government needs to urgently take action to address the repeated failure of the Sri Lankan State to protect the Muslim women and children. While there are differing views within the Muslim community, including among religious leaders and Islamic scholars, the State’s responsibility to protect all its citizens equally must be upheld. It is essential that the government acts decisively and forthwith to reform the laws that discriminate women from men. In pushing forward on the demands for reform of the MMDA, the Government and the Parliament will better ensure greater equality and justice for the people of this country.

Signatories;

Individuals

  1. Alagurajah Prasanjali
  2. Amalini de Sayrah
  3. Ananda Galappatti
  4. Anithra Varia
  5. Annemari de Silva
  6. Anuratha Rajaretnam
  7. Anushaya Collure
  8. Ashila Dandeniya
  9. Ashwiny Balakirushnaraja
  10. Asoka Obeyesekere
  11. Gowthaman
  12. Barathithasan Niroshini
  13. Bhavani Fonseka
  14. Buddhima Padmasiri
  15. Ranitha Gnanarajah – Attorney-at-Law
  16. Cayathri Divakalala – Researcher
  17. Channaka Jayasinghe
  18. Chintaka Rajapakse
  19. Chiranthi Mallikarachchi – Fashion Designer
  20. Chulani Kodikara
  21. Damaris Wickremesekera
  22. Danesh Casie Chetty
  23. Deanne Uyangoda
  24. Deborah Philip
  25. Deekshya Illangasinghe
  26. Dharshanie Alles, SFO
  27. Dilrukshi Handunneetti – Lawyer and Journalist
  28. Dinushika Dissanayake – Attorney-at-Law
  29. Anupama Ranawana – Independent Researcher
  30. Arani Poravi Nadarajah
  31. G. Usvatte-aratchi
  32. Harini Amarasuriya
  33. Jehan Perera
  34. Karthika Thiruchelvarajan
  35. Kaushalya Perera – University of Colombo
  36. Maheedaran Mahalingam
  37. P. Saravanamuttu
  38. Pamela Thirugnanam
  39. Pavithra Kailasapathy
  40. Selvanayagam Vijayanayagam
  41. Setunga Mudalige Philip
  42. Subathra Udayakumar
  43. Sumangali Perera
  44. Thiru Karthikeyan
  45. Thuvarakah Kanagaratnam
  46. Tush Wickramanayaka
  47. W.N.U.R. Karunadasa
  48. M. Bandara Menike – President, Women’s Development Foundation
  49. Easwary Sritharan
  50. Emil van der Poorten – In defence of civil rights
  51. Ephraim Shadrach
  52. Eranga Gunsekara
  53. Francis Costa Priyankara – Human Rights Activist
  54. Francis Raajan
  55. S Lakshan J.S. Dias – Attorney-at-Law
  56. Gamini Viyangoda – Purawesi Balaya
  57. Ganeshananthan Kiritharan
  58. Gaya Nagahawatta
  59. Geethika Dharmasinghe
  60. Gnanaharan Saravanapavananthan
  61. Godfrey Malarnesan
  62. Godfrey Yogarajah
  63. Gunasingham Kumanan
  64. Hans Billimoria – The Grassrooted Trust
  65. Immanuel Kitnan
  66. Iromi Perera
  67. Ishara Danasekara – vikalpa.org
  68. Ithayarani Sithravel
  69. Jake Oorloff
  70. Janan Sinduja
  71. Janaha Selvaras
  72. Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala
  73. Jayathilake Kammallaweera – Author
  74. Joanne Senn
  75. Joe William
  76. S. Ratnavale – Attorney-at-Law
  77. Kalani Subasinghe
  78. Kanchuka Dharmasiri
  79. Kamani Jinadasa – Women’s Rights Activist
  80. Karuppaiya Sathiyaseelan
  81. Kathirkamar Hemalatha
  82. Kaushalya Fernando – Actress
  83. Kaushalya Herath
  84. Kayalvili Gnanasegaran
  85. Keerthi Welisarage – Author
  86. Kumudini Samuel
  87. Kurukularasa Janan
  88. Lakmali Hemachandra
  89. Linosha Krishnakumar
  90. Lucille Abeykoon
  91. Mahaluxmy Kurushanthan
  92. Mahendran Nirosha
  93. Mahendran Thiruvarangan – Lecturer (Probationary) in English Literature, University of Jaffna
  94. Manel Fonseka
  95. Mangaleswary Shanker – Attorney-at-Law
  96. Marini de Livera
  97. Mario Gomez
  98. Marisa de Silva
  99. Mariyarosari Siva
  100. Mohan Nagarajah
  101. Murukaiya Sivasuthan
  102. Muthucumaran Sugirtharan
  103. Nadie Kammallaweera
  104. Navaratnam Narmatha
  105. Nilshan Fonseka
  106. Nirmala Mahenthiran
  107. Niventhini Sadikanth
  108. Narasingham
  109. Paba Deshapriya – Sanwedi Sri Lanka
  110. Paramasivum Muralitharan
  111. Pasan Jayasinghe
  112. Piyal Kariyawasam
  113. Priyalal Sirisena – Attorney-at-Law
  114. Arjuna Aluwihare
  115. Arjuna Parakrama
  116. Camena Guneratne
  117. Carmen Wickramagamage
  118. Harendra De Silva
  119. Jayantha Seneviratne
  120. Kumari Jayawardena
  121. Neloufer de Mel
  122. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole
  123. Savitri Goonesekere – Emeritus Professor of Law and Former Vice Chancellor, University of Colombo
  1. Sitralega Maunaguru
  2. Sutharsan Somasundaram – Eastern University Sri Lanka
  3. Puvanesasingham Jeevithan
  4. Radhika Coomaraswamy
  5. Rajany Rajeswary
  6. Ramya Chamalie Jirasinghe – Country Coordinator, Kindernothilfe
  7. Rathika Ariyakumar
  8. Rathnapillai Thavaselvi
  9. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris
  10. Fr. F. J. G. Croos (Nehru)
  11. Fr. Joseph Jeyaseelan, CMF
  12. Fr. Nandana Manatunga
  13. Fr. Oswald Firth – People’s Association for Peace and Development
  1. Fr. Samuel J. Ponniah – Archdeacon of Jaffna
  2. Fr. V. Yogeswaran
  3. Saman Perera – Samadana/m
  4. Sr. Eymard Marie Fernando
  5. Sr. Nichola SCJM
  6. Rishani Wijesinghe
  7. Roshni de Fonseka
  8. Ruki Fernando
  9. Ruwanthie de Chickera – Theatre Artist
  10. Sakthidasan Saktheeswaran
  11. Sakuntala Kadirgamar
  12. Sampath Samarakoon – Editor – vikalpa.org
  13. Sandun Thudugala
  14. Sandya Ekneligoda
  15. Sanjayan Rajasingham
  16. Sarah Arumugam
  17. Sarah Soysa
  18. Sarala Emmanuel – Researcher and Visiting Lecturer Open University, Batticaloa Branch
  1. Sarvam Kailasapathy
  2. Selvanathan Tharshan
  3. Selvaraja Rajasegar
  4. Selvarasa Thileepan
  5. Shamini Vibulan
  6. Shanthi Dias
  7. Sharmaine Guneratne
  8. Sheila Richards
  9. Shiranee Mills
  10. Shyamala Gomez
  11. Shyamala Sivagurunathan
  12. Sinnathurai Ketheswary
  13. Sinthuka Vivekanthan
  14. Sounthararajan Eswary
  15. Subha Wijesiriwardena
  16. Sudhagaran Rajitha
  17. Sudharshini Susmitha Pathmanathan
  18. Sumathy Sivamohan – University of Peradeniya
  19. Sunanda Deshapriya – Editor – Sri Lanka Brief
  20. Suren Perera – Attorney-at-Law
  21. Swasthika Arulingam
  22. Tanuja Thurairajah
  23. Tehani Ariyaratne
  24. Thambirajah Kalaivani
  25. Thanaraj Thilakeshwary
  26. Tharmika Sivarajah
  27. Thayalini Jegatheesan
  28. Thiyagaraja Waradas – University of Colombo
  29. Thrashini Somasekaram
  30. Thurka Jeyachanthiran
  31. Uda Deshapriya – Attorney-at-Law
  32. Udan Fenando
  33. Udaya Kalupathirana
  34. Valarmathy Thushikaran
  35. Vanie Simon
  36. Vanitha Mahendran
  37. Vasuki Jeyasankar – Artist and Women’s Rights Activist
  38. Venuri Perera
  39. Vidura Prabath Munasinghe
  40. Vimukthi De Silva
  41. Visaka Dharmadasa
  42. Vraie Cally Balthazaar
  43. Yalini Loganath

 

Organisations

  1. Affected Women’s Forum (AWF), Ampara
  2. Alliance Development Trust (ADT)
  3. Association of War Affected Women (AWAW)
  4. Centre for Equality and Justice (CEJ)
  5. Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD)
  6. Centre for Justice and Change (CJC)
  7. Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)
  8. Community Welfare and Development Fund
  9. Human Rights Office (HRO), Kandy
  10. INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre
  11. International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES)
  12. Law and Society Trust (LST)
  13. Liberation Movement (LM)
  14. Maatram Foundation
  15. Mannar Women’s Development Federation (MWDF)
  16. Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR)
  17. National Peace Council (NPC)
  18. People’s Alliance for Right to Land (PARL)
  19. Praja Abhilasha Joining Hands Network
  20. Rural Development Foundation
  21. Sisters at Law
  22. StandUp Movement Lanka
  23. Stop Child Cruelty Trust
  24. Social Scientist Association
  25. Suriya Women’s Development Centre, Batticaloa
  26. The Institute of Social Development (ISD)
  27. Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL)
  28. Vallamai – Moment for Social Change, Jaffna
  29. Women and Media Collective (WMC)
  30. Women Education and Research Centre (WERC)

 

 

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