Women’s groups to submit memos for law reform in Malaysia

The National Council of Women’s Organisations (NCWO) and the Joint Action Group (JAG) for Gender Equality will submit seven memoranda for law reform to the Women, Family and Community Development Minister.

“We are also sending a letter to Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil asking her to accelerate reform,” said Ivy Josiah, executive director of the Women’s Aid Organisation, which is a member of JAG.

She said Shahrizat had met with the NCWO and JAG on April 24, and their discussion had focused largely on “unfinished business”, that is, the various memoranda that women’s groups had submitted since 2000.

“The seven memoranda involve the Domestic Violence Act, Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act, Article 8 of the Federal Constitution on gender equality and what happens to the wife or husband whose spouse converts to Islam, and their children.

“Our follow-up letter to the minister is to ask her to facilitate discussions with the Attorney-General’s Chambers and for them to brief us on the latest developments.”

Josiah said they also wanted the ministry to form a task force comprising women’s groups that would propose amendments and new laws on an ongoing basis rather than ad hoc, as was being done now.

On the government’s new Law Review Committee, she said such a committee or commission should ensure civil society representation and have 30% women members, as per their stand for policy-making bodies.

“Women make up half the population and having a gender perspective is very important.

“This committee should have public consultations and those recommendations should be made public,” Josiah said, adding that the committee should not waste time reinventing the wheel because “many groups had submitted reports and memorandums for law reform for years.”



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