SHAH ALAM: Thirty thousand alimony cases are filed annually in the Selangor Syariah Courts and a state Syariah judge is committed to going after men who fail to honour their obligations.
Nenney Shushaidah Shamsuddin (pic) said issues like alimony must be resolved because it affects the public’s perception about justice dispensed by Syariah Courts.
“If Muslim women bring their cases to the Syariah courts, the courts will go after those who shirk their responsibilities and mock court orders.
“We will work with the Immigration Department, the Employee Provident Fund, employers and do all that we can to trace them (defaulters) and give the women their alimonies owed,” said Nenney who was recently named among BBC’s list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2018.
She said authorities sometimes faced difficulties finding those who had multiple addresses and no proper jobs.
“Even if we want to issue a warrant of arrest, we need an address,” said Nenney.
She said a similar situation arises in custody cases when a parent runs off with the children and police have to raid all the addresses but the culprit keeps moving.
Muslim women, she said, also faced difficulties when they wanted a divorce.
Nenney said these cases should be resolved fast because a long trial could cause distress and unhappiness for both parties.
She said there were judges who deliberately delay the pronouncement of fasakh (annulment in Islam) because of the literal interpretation of the hadith which states that divorce is the most detestable thing for God.
The Selangor Syariah Courts, she said, has a “Fast Track Divorce” procedure to ensure men and women do not have to continue to suffer in a marriage.
Nenney said the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) should be amended to enable judges to impose heavier penalties on husbands who marry again unlawfully.
“They marry in Thailand or Batam, Indonesia and then come to register their marriages. They are asking for trouble.
“The law only allows a fine of RM1,000 or prison if they married unlawfully. It is peanuts for these men.
“I will make it difficult for those who abuse religion for their polygamous behaviour and make them pay for breaking the laws,” she said.
She, however, allows for polygamy if the man can provide for both wives and the women agree.
Nenney pointed out committed stakeholders can change flawed perception as Selangor has done in the case of child marriage.
The state is at the forefront in eradicating child marriages, being the first to raise the marriageable age to 18.
“Marrying off a child is sending her to hell,” said the 42-year-old mother of three.
A Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia syariah graduate, Nenney had worked with a women’s NGO and with the Legal Aid Department before being appointed as a Syariah High Court judge two-and-half-years ago.