How Religion and Culture Adversely Affect Women in Malaysia
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Women rights and gender equality has been a problem for a lot of countries, one of them, is Malaysia. Women in Malaysia had suffered from varieties of problems such as high rate of divorce, poverty, lack of education and health care, and violence. There are three different cultures in Malaysia – Chinese, Malay and Indians, the ones that suffer the most are the Malays. The main reason that made Malays suffered the most are their religion, Islam. The Malays that Islamic are called the “Muslims”. Most Muslims are described as second-class and are usually discriminated from others.
Muslims are very religious and strict with their religious rules. Most rules are stated by their central religious text of Islam, Qur’an. The Qur’an mentioned that women can only have half of the education level that the men do which means they do not receive a lot of education. The Qur’an also said that all women / girls need to get permission from their father in order to marry a man. To divorce the man, the Muslim women have to either request divorce from her husband or go to a court (Jackson). Unlike women, men have full right and control to what they do, they can divorce the women anytime they want. Most people that believe in Islam are usually from the developing countries, where both political and economical states are instable which people have a low quality of living. The women will have fewer opportunities of education, inadequate health care and other opportunities that occur in developed countries. Usually, women are the victim of violence and sexual harassments.
The picture is a quote from the Qur’an, it states: “Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally],take leave from them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.” (4:34)” (Surat an-nisÄ’). Saying that men are the one that is in charge of women and wealth at home, that women should be obedient to their husband. For the woman that does not follow the rules, you first advise them, if they persist to not follow, forsake them in bed and leave them. But if they obey you, then you should do nothing to them. At the end, it says that Allah is the most worship and admirable. Just this one quote, status of Muslim women is shown clearly to the people that it is very low. Women are treated very poorly by the men due to the rules that have been set up in the religious book, Qur’an. The women are expected to do what the man says and cannot be against them or else will be punished.
Most men take advantage of the rules from Qur’an to do anything they want, divorce is one of the main things they do. The divorce rate for Muslims in Malaysia are relatively high compared to other culture and religions. It is depressing to see that the Muslim divorce rate is 15,000 a year (still increasing) compared to Chinese and Indians which is 3000 a year (Joanne, 2006). Malaysia is one of the Muslim countries that allow divorces to take place in courts (Joanne, 2006). Later on, the people complain to government for the “divorce in courts” because they live too far away from the court. With the freedom to divorce outside the courts, the divorce rate increased tremendously and in unacceptable ways, for example – SMS (Joanne, 2006). Not just the way that men divorce women, even the reasons why they want to divorce were unlimited. They would divorce because their wife step out of the house, picking up a phone, visiting family, or even talk to person he dislike, may cause divorcing.
Even though Malaysia is a multi-cultural country, it is still a men dominated country. There is always certain job that women will not be given a chance to get due to several reasons. One of the reasons is pregnancy, women would get pregrent, later on ask for maternal leaves which most bosses dislike. Women cannot be housewife, mother and at the same time still get a job, this will increase the rate of divorce. So far, only 47% of the women are participated in labour force which means there is still a long way to go for equity of women (Azizan, 2011). MMM sponsorship Project manager Zainuriah Abdul Rahman said that “We want to enable women to be dynamic in society and to take positive action to improve the quality of their lives” (Hassan, 2012). Mercy Mission Malaysia (MMM) is one of the organizations hoping to continue the push to empower women in Malaysia and Muslim women across the globe (Hassan, 2012).
Even though Muslim women have to follow the rules, but Muslim women should not be forced to marry someone they dislike. Also Muslim women should have the right to get a divorce like man does. It is unfair to the women if only men are allowed to get a divorce any time they want when women need to request it from their husband. Education and health care should also be given equally for better job opportunities in the future.
1. (Jackson): Jackson, N. (n.d.). The advantages & disadvantages of being a muslim woman. Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com/info_8173882_advantages-disadvantages-being-muslim-woman.html
2. (Surat an-nisÄ’): Surat an-nisÄ’ (the women) – Ø³ÙØ±Ø© Ø§ÙÙØ³Ø§Ø¡. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://quran.com/4/34
3. (Joanne, 2006): Joanne. (2006, November 6). Stemming the “i divorce you” trend. Retrieved from http://www.stophonourkillings.com/?q=node/857
4. (Azizan, 2011): AZIZAN, H. (2011, March 6). still far from equal. Retrieved from http://mystarjob.com/articles/story.aspx?file=/2011/3/6/mystarjob_news/20110307111639&sec=mystarjob_news
5. (Hassan, 2012): Hassan, A. (2012, May 17). Malaysia’s muslim women look for enpowerment. Retrieved from http://www.bikyamasr.com/69099/malaysias-muslim-women-look-for-empowerment/