Thursday, December 27, 2007

Escaping through Islam

Now, just as I thought that I've got things figured out, I get further confused again. Reuters had just posted an article on the Subashini case. In short, it is sort of a custody battle between to parents whose marriage is now void. But in this case, the issue is not of physical custody, but rather, religion.

According to the article, "the Federal Court rejected her request for an injunction on technical grounds, leaving her free to try again, but one judge noted the court's jurisdiction was limited, given the husband was now a Muslim and therefore governed by Islamic or sharia law." It also states: "the judges' comments made it clear they recognized the husband's right, as a newly converted Muslim, to have recourse to the Islamic courts."

Okay, let's deal with a hypothetical situation:

As I understand it (IANAL), under Syariah Law, a woman who claims to have been raped, would need to produce either a confession from the rapist, or four male witnesses of the crime. Otherwise, the alleged rapist would usually get acquitted of the charge as there wasn't an easy way to prove the crime. In return, the woman, could then be charged under adultery (Zina) and punished accordingly, which is incidentally, stoning (for a married woman) or 100 lashes.

So, it would seem that the best recourse for any rapist in Malaysia, would be to convert to Islam after they're caught. It would give them the best chance of escaping the crime. It doesn't seem to matter whether or not the crime was committed before or after their conversion. They would have recourse to the Islamic courts and can duke it out there, instead of the regular courts.

This is totally confused!

I certainly hope that our country figures things out so that things don't confuse me utterly.

UPDATED@29/12: It seems that there's hope after all. According to this article, a recent 2-1 Federal Court decision has set a legal precedent in the country and asserts that: the Family Court has exclusive power to decide on matters involving divorce and custody rights of a couple of which one spouse has become a Muslim. The judges felt that a Muslim spouse cannot seek legal recourse through the Syariah Courts as it would amount to abusing the legal system. So, it seems that it's not going to be so easy to escape the civil courts after all and another potential legal loophole, has been closed.

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