I would like to respond to Nik Noriani Nik Badlishah's letter entitled Islamic Family Law bill fundamentally unjust.
First Nik Noraini says 'Family laws codified in the Muslim world are based on conceptions of marriage that were not introduced by the Quran or the Sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w.), but reflect medieval cultural practices and customs'.
This statement is not accompanied by evidence. It would be good if Nik and her entire organisation furnish the public with evidence so as we could respond accordingly.
Next she claims: 'Marriage was conceived in terms of commerce and ownership, with jurists making analogies between marriage and the institution of slavery (husbands = masters, wives = slaves), and entrenching male privilege as a fundamental part of marriage'.
Nik Noraini fails to understand the context of the ruling on slavery. She equates slavery with male privileges. Since the only source of slaves in Islam are from 'prisoners of wars', therefore only men have the right to obtain slaves. Why? Because only men die and get maimed in wars. Women are largely uninvolved in matters of fighting. So, the male privilege is not really a privilege considering men may have to pay for such 'privilege' potentially with their lives (or part of their limbs). Men who don't go to wars and put their lives on the line are not given slaves.
She also says that: 'However, gender neutrality is not the same as gender equality, and in fact can lead to further discrimination against women'. The question now whether 'gender equality' is actually fair? Dr Warren Farrell writes in his book 'The Myth of Male Power':
"... when more than 90% of women got married and divorce was rare, discrimination of men at work meant discrimination in favour of their wives at home".
"During the time I was on the Board of National Organisation for Women in New York City, the most resistant audiences I ever faced in the process of doing corporate workshops on equality in the workplace were not male executives - they were the wives of male executives'.
So, it seems that gender equality is not so equal after all. While they try to be equal to women at work, they in turn discriminate against women at home. In short, equality is not a 100% solution towards producing fairness. Being 'equal' does not necessarily mean being fair.
This, along with numerous other examples, proves the fallibility of the feminist agenda (in the name of equality, of course). For Islam to bend itself backwards to be "politically correct" and to adopt the feminist agenda is something that is beyond comprehension.
Considering the fallibility and inherent weakness of the gender equality agenda, gender equality activists should refrain from their 'holier than thou" stance and start to reexamine their ideology with complete objectivity. Please heed Bob McNamara's advice that we should never hesitate to reexamine our reasoning. If the Americans had done that, then the Vietnam war would have been averted altogether.
Nik Noraini went on to quote: "As Chief Judge Datuk Siti Norma Yaakob has stated, 'Women are often denied access to the rights and justice already granted to them in the state enactments because of entrenched prejudices in the implementation of the [religious] law.'
Allow me to quote a study, based on empirical evidence, conducted by Zaleha Kamaruddin entitled 'Justice delayed is justice denied'. In her conclusion she writes:
" ..they (Jakim) did not dispute the fact that the inefficiency of these courts is caused by the problems of the court itself, such as burdensome caseloads, excessive trials, insufficient court structures and case-handling procedures. However, accusation of courts being biased in matrimonial matters relating to women especially of unfair treatment and unsympathetic attitudes of officials in the syariah courts are unfounded. So is the allegation that the courts are more inclined to favour men, especially in cases relating to maintenance for children".
The study also depicts, among others, the numerical relationship between the number of judges and the number of delayed cases by state. It seems that Kelantan, having the highest number of judges, has the lowest number of delayed cases (zero).
This points to the fact that the perceived discrimination on women by syariah courts is not systematic. Rather, delay in cases is mostly due to administrative problems such as lack of judges, etc. There is no empirical evidence ever furnished by detractors of the syariah system to prove discrimination against women.