SIS Story - SIS Annual Report 25 July 2007 Intro Chapter 1....

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SIS Annual Report 25 July 2007 Intro Chapter 1 1. The Story of Sisters It started with a question: If God is just, if Islam is just, then why do laws and policies made in the name of Islam bring about injustice? This was the burning question that faced the SIS founding members when they began their search for answers to discrimination against Muslim women made in the name of Islam. The genesis of Sisters in Islam began through the Association of Women Lawyers (AWL). Several women lawyers and their friends first got together under the Syariah subcommittee of AWL to look into the problems with the implementation of the new Islamic Family laws which was passed by Parliament in 1984, and enforced in 1987. As professional women and as activists, many women had confided in them their marital problems and the problems they faced when they approached the religious authorities to seek redress to these issues. Those early meetings focused on problems with the law and its implementation and the kinds of solutions needed to redress the shortcomings. That was 1987, when the group of women, under AWL, started meeting in the living room of a house shared by Zainah Anwar, a former journalist and senior analyst who had done her Masters thesis on the phenomenon of political Islam among Malaysian students, and Noor Farida Ariffin, the then President of AWL and Legal Advisor at the Economic Planning Unit in the Prime Minister’s Department. Most of those present were lawyers or law professors, a journalist and an analyst. . Their first activity was to organise a workshop in 1988 with the National Council of Women’s Organisation, the federal government’s Women’s Affairs Division and the Islamic Centre (Pusat Islam) in the Prime Minister’s Department to alert the authorities to the problems women faced with the implementation of the law and to recommend reform on the substantive law and also procedure to ensure that women’s rights were protected. That was only the beginning. Sisters Reading it for Themselves Increasingly however, a number of those in the group felt that dealing with the law alone was not enough. They were disturbed at the constant reference to Islam as a source of injustice and oppression of women. Women complained they had to suffer in silence because of their belief that Islam demanded obedience to their husbands, even when these same husbands had been cruel to them. They heard talks, again and again, in religious lectures and sermons at private homes, over radio and television, at mosques and in courts where women were often told that men were superior to women, that the evidence of two women equalled one man, that the husband had a right to beat his wife
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SIS Annual Report 25 July 2007 Intro Chapter 2 or to take a second wife, and that the only place for disobedient wives in the hereafter was Hell. And this was how the meetings in Zainah’s living room started being transformed. There
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This note was uploaded on 05/15/2010 for the course SEA 215 taught by Professor Lorenryter during the Winter '10 term at University of Michigan.

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SIS Story - SIS Annual Report 25 July 2007 Intro Chapter 1....

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