BY SHAILA KOSHY
The newly passed Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce)(Amendment) Bill failed to settle the controversy over the unilateral conversion of minors but is it a total loss?
FAMILIES which were torn asunder after one parent in a civil marriage converted to Islam see no reason to celebrate the Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) (Amendment) Bill that was passed on Thursday.
M. Indira Gandhi was one of those whose life was upended when her husband converted to Islam in 2009 and proceeded to convert their minor children three weeks later without her knowledge. Weeks later, he took their youngest daughter who was just 11 months old and left. Indira has been walking in and out of the courts since 2009.
She and others in the similar situation were counting on the proposed Section 88A to sort out their problems as it would have invalidated unilateral conversions of minor children.
The Government promised them in 2009 that this matter would be resolved and there were sighs of relief when Section 88A appeared in the Bill that was presented in the Dewan Rakyat last November.
However, that was withdrawn early last week. Section 88A disappeared on grounds it was unconstitutional.
Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail expressed disappointment saying “the amendment would have resolved interfaith custody conflicts between Muslim and non-Muslim parents; and establish coherent standards for reconciling the principle of the best interest of the child with the constitutional rights of parents in the exercise of the right to freedom of religion”. Read more