A rebellion is stirring in Malaysia over new legislation which critics say undermines the rights of Muslim women by making it easier for men to take multiple wives and claim property after divorce.
The government was forced to strike down opposition in the usually tame upper house Senate to push through the bill last week, only to face an avalanche of protest from civil society groups and ordinary citizens.
Malaysian Muslim men are allowed four wives under Islamic law, but under the new amendments they no longer have to prove they are financially capable of treating all their wives equally before taking on another.
On taking a new wife, men can now seize property belonging to existing wives, and they are also given new rights to claim assets after a divorce, as well as less obligation to pay compensation and maintenance.
“They are giving more rights to the men whilst taking back the traditional Muslim women’s rights,” said Razlina Razali from Sisters in Islam, one of several activist groups in an alliance demanding that the bill be abandoned.
“It’s not justified under Islam because Islam promotes the principle of equality and justice, and traditionally it guards the rights of Muslim women,” she said....
“How long will it take to amend? Fifteen years? And how many women will suffered under it by then?” asked Razlina.