Govt mulls over pre-marital course for non-Muslim couples

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 23 Sep 2003

NON-MUSLIMS may have to first undergo a compulsory pre-marriage course. 

Women and Family Development Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Paduka Mastika Junaidah Husin said the Government was considering this move in the light of increasing divorce rates among them. 

According to the National Registration Department, she said divorces among non-Muslims went up by 135.2% from 2000 to last year, or from 1,613 cases to 3,793. 

“With the high number of divorce cases among non-Muslim couples, it is time for us to find ways to create strong family institutions,” she told reporters at Parliament lobby. 

However, she added, the ministry would first get feedback from various religious organisations and NGOs.  

Mastika said although there was a uniform law on marriage and divorce for non-Muslims, there were no religious authorities to look into such matters.  

“The Islamic Development Religious Department conducts pre-marriage courses for Muslim couples, which has helped bring down the number of divorce cases among Muslims,” she said. 

In the House earlier, she told Datin Paduka Tan Yee Kew (BN–Klang) her ministry had not carried out any specific study on the rising divorce cases among non-Muslims. 

She said divorce cases among Muslims had gone down by 16.29% to 11,004 cases last year from 13,536 cases in 2000. 

Quoting figures from the Housing and Population Census 2000, she said there were 82,977 divorcees among women aged between 15 and 49 and 62,876 women from the same age group who were separated from their husbands. 

On the ministry’s “Smart Start” guide books on marriage guidance which were initially in Malay and English, she said there were now available in Tamil and Chinese.  

The “Smart Start” gives tips on parenting and relationships with parents-in-law, among others.  

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