KUALA LUMPUR: Syariah courts are often regarded as not being women-friendly and too bogged down with backlogged cases to be effective.
Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil found this out during a working visit to the Federal Territory Syariah Court here on Monday.
She said later that while the courts strived to hear cases and resolve them fast and in a fair manner, the indifference and lack of manpower within the courts actually crippled the work process.
Shahrizat posed questions to judges from the Syariah High Courts and Lower Courts on cases that most women lamented about, like the maintenance and custody of children.
In their briefing, High Court judges Abu Bakar Ahmad and Yusof Musa told her there were numerous instances of Muslims, especially the womenfolk who were ignorant of their rights under the Syariah Laws.
“It is amazing to see that women are not informed of their rights, such as what they can apply for in the event of a divorce or custody case pending in the courts, like the temporary maintenance,” said Shahrizat.
Asked about provisions to monitor the welfare of children, especially in incest
cases, she said this was an issue that needed special attention.
An issue that caught the Minister’s attention was the fact that Syariah Court judgements often went unheeded.
Shahrizat said the issues discussed would be forwarded to the Cabinet Committee on Family Law, chaired by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim, and later formulated into an inter-ministry memorandum to be presented to the Cabinet.