Divorce law reform leaves Hindu moms in custody row with mixed feelings

Facebook
Facebook
Google+
https://hakam.org.my/wp/2016/08/27/divorce-law-reform-leaves-hindu-moms-in-custody-row-with-mixed-feelings/
SHARE

Source: The Malay Mail Online

M. Indira Gandhi (left) and S. Deepa are the focus of custody battles involving their former husbands who are Muslim converts. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, February 23, 2016.

M. Indira Gandhi (left) and S. Deepa are the focus of custody battles involving their former husbands who are Muslim converts. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, February 23, 2016.

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — Hindu mothers S. Deepa and M. Indira Gandhi have reportedly expressed mixed feelings over the recently announced amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

In a report by The Star Online, S. Deepa applauded the move but M. Indira Gandhi expressed her doubts, with both embroiled in lengthy legal battles over their children’s custody following their ex-husbands’ conversion into Islam.

“My prayers have finally been answered,” Deepa, currently a waitress, told the portal.

The 32-year-old woman, whose ex-husband unilaterally converted their two children into Islam, said she was happy that others would receive justice although she herself has “lost” her son.

“I lost everything … my hairdressing salon business, my house and I even had to leave my family, friends and hometown of Jelebu because of the case.

“I am still struggling to make ends meet in a place alien to me but at least others will not suffer what I went through,” she added.

On February 10, the Federal Court granted Deepa granted custody of the couple’s 11-year old daughter Sharmila, also called Nur Nabila, while her ex-husband Izwan Abdullah got custody of their eight-year-old son Mithran, also called Nabil, after the judges interviewed the children.

In contrast, Indira Gandhi said she was not placing any hopes on the move, saying that the same tune was sung back in 2009, with nothing done by Putrajaya thereafter.

“I’ve heard the same thing since 2009. For years, the Government has been saying it will table the amendments but up until now, nothing has been done.

“I think my case will be over and done with before any amendments actually go through.

“I really hope this is not just talk for the sake of the other women and children facing the same predicament,” the kindergarten teacher was quoted saying.

On April 29, after years of tumultuous legal battle, the Federal Court ordered the national police chief to arrrest Indira Gandhi’s Muslim convert ex-husband for contempt of court over his refusal to hand custody of their youngest child to her in the high-profile child conversion case.

The Cabinet decided in 2009 to bar the unilateral conversion of children, but the proposed legal amendments to enforce this were later shelved following the intervention from the Conference of Rulers hours before they could be tabled in Parliament.

Putrajaya had then proposed amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act 1984 and the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 to ensure that issues like child support and custody would be determined by the court in which the marriage had been registered in, regardless if one spouse embraces another religion later on.

Then de facto law minister Nancy Shukri told Malay Mail Online last January that the government was planning amendments to those three laws and had hoped they would be tabled soon.

 

S. Deepa welcomes proposal to amend Marriage and Divorce Act
Source: The Star Online, 27 Aug

SEREMBAN: “My prayers have finally been answered,” said one of the women who is currently embroiled in a custody battle after her ex-husband converted to Islam.

These were the first words uttered by S. Deepa following the Government’s proposal to amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 during the next Parliament sitting.

Deepa, 32, who is embroiled in a custody battle with her ex-husband who embraced Islam and quietly converted their two children for almost four years, said although she has “lost” her son, she was happy that others like her would get justice once the amendments were passed.

“I lost everything … my hairdressing salon business, my house and I even had to leave my family, friends and hometown of Jelebu because of the case.

“I am still struggling to make ends meet in a place alien to me but at least others will not suffer what I went through,” she said.

Deepa had cried “injustice” when the Federal Court, in February this year, awarded custody of her eight-year-old son Nabil Abdullah to his Muslim convert father now known as Izwan Abdullah.

The boy told the court that he was happy to live with his father while custody of the couple’s 11-year-old daughter, Nurul Nabila Abdullah, was given to the mother as per the girl’s wishes.

Deepa, who now works as a waitress, said she and her daughter now live in a low-cost house with a female relative in an undisclosed location.

Meanwhile, kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi is not placing any hope on the Government’s promise to amend the law.

“I’ve heard the same thing since 2009. For years, the Government has been saying it will table the amendments but up until now, nothing has been done.

“I’ve been waiting for too long and lost far too much.

“It’s been seven years and I still don’t have my daughter back,” she said.

Indira Gandhi, who on May 19 was granted leave by the Federal Court to question the validity of her children’s unilateral conversion to Islam, does not think the amendments would make any difference in her case.

“I think my case will be over and done with before any amendments actually go through.

“I really hope this is not just talk for the sake of the other women and children facing the same predicament.

“Make it happen so that others do not have to suffer like us,” she added.

The legal saga between Indira Gandhi and her ex-husband, Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, formerly known as K. Pathmanathan, began in April 2009 when he took their youngest child Prasana Diksa, then 11 months old, and converted to Islam.

The two older children – Tevi Darsiny, then 12, and Karan Dinish, then 11– remained with their mother.