KUCHING: The cabinet has approved an official definition of “single mother” in Malaysia for future purposes.
A population survey done by the Statistics Department in 2010 showed over 800,000 single mothers in the country.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said her department gave allocations and conduct programmes for the 800,000 single mothers but found out many women in the list were not considered “single mothers” as they did not have children.
“Before this, some people considered a person as a single mother as long as they are divorced. We are getting a lot of divorcees but no children,” said Rohani during a press conference for the law literacy seminar series two.
The three agreed definitions by the cabinet for single mothers are wife with a dependent child who are divorced by husband, mothers who are breadwinners for the family with dependent children and support husbands who are disabled, bedridden or even deceased (unable to work) and divorced women with adopted child or have children out of wedlock.
Mothers who have children who are independent or have families of their own are not considered as single mothers.
After going through the redefinition of “single mothers”, the national number of single mothers has dropped to 235,000.
“I also asked the chief director of Department of Women Development to further refine the 235,000 single mothers into categories such as age, profession and qualification,” said Rohani.
The purpose of the redefinition is to facilitate the department to tailor make programmes that meet the needs for specific single mothers.
She said there were many champions doing programmes for single mothers. Therefore she wanted to come to one commonality for an action plan for all the champions to conduct.
Meanwhile, Rohani launched the second series of law literacy seminar “Strategic Roles of Women in Changing Environment: Knowing the Rights in Wisma Bapa Malaysia” yesterday. The programme aims to spread awareness to women about their rights and sharing information regarding women rights.
In 2009, Malaysian Islamic Development Department reported that for every 15 minutes, there was one divorce by a Muslim couple. Between 2014 and 2015, divorce requests had hiked to 25,679 cases and from January until June 2015, there are 8,625 cases of divorce as reported by Syariah Judiciary Department.
In terms of domestic violence, the Royal Malaysia Police reported 1,644 cases from January this year to April and 1,236 from the number involved women. The highest number of domestic violence recorded in Malaysia was in Selangor with 275 cases. Sarawak reported 75 cases.
Statistics acquired from the Syariah court and civil court showed many issues of divorce cases such as acquiring alimony and child custody rights which were not taken seriously by men.