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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

'Most polygamy marriages occur without wives' consent or knowledge'

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Statistics and observations provided by Sisters in Islam (SIS) based on clients of its Telenisa legal advisory service, have given insight into the issues faced by Muslim families that go to court over various disputes, be it divorce or inheritance
One notable observation was that in the 254 polygamy cases they have dealt with between 2014 and 2016, most involved wives who either did not consent to a polygamous relationship (75 cases) or did not know they were in a polygamous relationship (60 cases).
SIS notes that husbands often conduct their subsequent marriages in bordering countries, which allows them to circumvent provisions in certain states such as the Federal Territories, in which a man has to go to court before taking on another wife.
"He also has, among other things, to prove to the court that he is able to support all his existing and subsequent wives and dependents.
"However, men end up marrying subsequent wives at bordering countries and not registering their marriage and therefore, the rights of subsequent wives and children are not looked after," the SIS research said.
Registration of marriages conducted outside Malaysian borders is a legal requirement by the government, but such marriages are still valid under Islam.
Unregistered polygamous marriages have also created a different problem for second wives.
Of the 32 second wives who turned to Telenisa, "most of them did not know that they have to register the marriage in Malaysia prior to filing for divorce or to claim for any rights as a wife".
Meanwhile on divorce cases Telenisa handled, the leading cause of marriage dissolution was domestic violence.
In 2014, a total of 127 cases of domestic violence were recorded, while in 2015, the number dropped to 27 cases. The following year, however, the number rose to 107.
The leading types of domestic violence suffered by Telenisa's clients were classified as psychological (44.9 percent of cases) followed by physical violence (37.4 percent).
"Increasingly, Telenisa has recorded greater levels of emotional and psychological abuse experienced by our clients.
"The impact is extremely destabilising, affecting the domestic violence survivors’ ability to provide stability and continuity to their own and their children’s daily lives," it said.
Clients also reported suffering from social, financial, and sexual domestic violence, among others.
SIS noted that when domestic violence occurs, wives were more likely to initiate the divorce through fasakh - a process that allows wives to dissolve marriages if the husbands had ill-treated them.
This statement appears to be supported by the number of fasakhcases they dealt with, with numbers increasing or decreasing in a similar pattern to the number of domestic violence cases.

In 2014, 66 clients had sought for fasakh. The following year, the number dropped to 27. Then in 2016, the number increased to 62.
As for cases affecting children in Muslim families in 2016, most involved custody (49 percent) and maintenance issues (30.9 percent).
In its commentary on these findings, the SIS put the blame on fathers for failing to provide for their children and delegating responsibilities to other family members, among others. - Mkini

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