SIS urges ministry to protect women and children

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Photograph: Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas/Pexels

Sisters in Islam (SIS) urges the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, headed by Rina Harun and Deputy Minister Siti Zailah, to be clear with their message on protecting women and children from abusive households especially during this movement xontrol order.

The 5 minute 18 second-video showed Siti Zailah speaking and giving out marriage advice on how to handle stress, which included being patient with their spouses and accepting their flaws by thinking of their other 1,000 strengths, saying thank you and forgiving each other and sitting down or, for Muslims, taking their ablution to calm down when feeling angry.

While this is general advice for any marriage and relationship, the video by Siti Zailah gives out an underlying tone that women should accept, remain patient and forgive their partners despite their partners’ abusive attitude.

This is unacceptable; as deputy minister of women, family and community development, she should be empowering women by affirming that they deserve to live a life free from violence and fear and to reiterate that women’s and children’s safety is the utmost priority for the ministry.

Siti Zailah should make Mohd Na’im Mokhtar, director general of the Department of Syariah Judiciary Malaysia’s recent video on handling abusive marriages during the movement control order an example.

In his video, Mohd Na’im advised women to protect themselves and their children by not being their husband’s punching bag and to have the courage to leave the house, if they are abused. He also mentioned that a wife will not be “nusyuz” if she left the house from her abusive husband and that all of us have the responsibility to protect our bodies from harm. [Nusyuz means a wife unreasonably refuses to obey the lawful wishes or commands of her husband, that is to say, inter alia: i) when she withholds her association with her husband; ii) when she leaves her husband’s home against his will; or iii) when she refuses to move with him to another home or place – without any valid reason according to Hukum Syara’.]

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Siti Zailah’s video shows that the ministry fails to understand deeply the issue and dynamics of being in an abusive marriage or relationship, especially during the movement control order, which has been extended for another two weeks. Furthermore, Siti Zailah mentioned that the ministry through Talian Kasih 15999 has taken action on 100% of the complaints received.

What actions have been taken exactly? How do the three tips given by Siti Zailah then serve the purpose of promoting Talian Kasih 15999?

SIS would like to reiterate and urge the ministry to focus on protecting women and children instead of advising women to please their husbands, accept and be patient with their husband’s abusive nature as women and children are exposed to violence more during the movement control order.

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