By Mariam Mokhtar
In the battle for the hearts and minds of the electorate, the Perak Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration appears to want to compete with PAS, to woo Muslim males.
On October 31, having launched the Perak Islamic Religious Council’s matchmaking website and Module on Understanding Polygamy in Perak, the State Executive councillor, Asmuni Awi, announced that the Perak government planned to amend Section 23 of the Islamic Family Enactment (Perak) 2004. The move would make it easier for Muslim men to enter into a polygamous marriage.
Asmuni said, “Some wives agree to allow their husbands to be polygamous, but do not like to appear in court. So the amendments will give the court the discretion whether to call the wife or not when arriving at a decision.”
Muslim men already find it easy to marry again, with or without their first wives’ permission. Why not be creative and help single mothers and abandoned wives, instead?
Last March, the Perak PAS information chief, Wan Tarmizi Abd Aziz, suggested that women should celebrate International Women’s Day by consenting to polygamy. He said, “Women’s Day will be more meaningful if a woman gifts (sic) another woman to her spouse, as a mark of appreciation of other women.”
Have the leaders of these two parties, lost their senses? Why should women agree to polygamy? It is always about the Muslim man. Haven’t they been pampered enough, given all sorts of handouts and opportunities, but still make a mess of their lives?
Muslim women, who are abandoned by their husbands, find it difficult to make ends meet. Muslim single mothers who go through the Syariah courts face an uphill battle to get alimony and maintenance for the children, and yet Asmuni thinks it is better to help Muslim men marry again and create even more single mothers.
Will he and his boss, the Menteri Besar, Ahmad Faizal Azumu, get their priorities right?
Why have the other component coalition members of PH, like DAP and PKR, kept quiet? Why are the NGOs and family organisations not protesting against this irresponsible ruling?
Perakians who voted in GE-14 wanted change – real change and not just cosmetic changes or daft policies, which only help to further destroy our society. They did not vote for a new administration which will make it easier for already married Muslim men to marry again. They also wanted an end to corruption, cronyism, bigotry, extremism, injustice and abuse of power.
Don’t the Muslim leaders in Perak, read? Have they no idea about the divorce statistics and the numbers of single women, and wives whose husbands refuse to grant them a divorce, but do not contribute towards the upkeep of the family home and the children. There are also the women who have been left high and dry, by their errant ex-husbands.
Did they not read about the two women in Terengganu, both divorced and single mothers who were forced to prostitute themselves to provide for themselves and their children. Instead of forcing the men to provide for these women, the women were whipped. What kind of justice is this?
Why are the Muslim politicians, in government, treating the Muslim men in their electorate like spoilt brats and pampered pooches? If the truth be told, some Muslim men simply waltz from one marital bed to another. Some don’t even have a decent job or any job at all. They just marry a working woman and live off her.
Here is the story of a polygamous wife. Her name has been changed to protect the innocent.
“...Our romance was fun. We met at a party. He was much older than me, but I did not mind. Men of my age are immature, and they only want to have their bit of fun, but Nik did not rush into things. In fact, I panicked, in case he ended our relationship.
As he was much older, and already a working man, I enjoyed our dinner dates. They were at proper restaurants, and it was fun to be wined and dined. The younger men I dated were clumsy and just took me to the nearest stall. They did not know the art of conversation, whereas Nik was well read and enthralled me with his expansive knowledge.
Our courtship was like an adventure. He did not tell me he was married, at first. I found out by accident, much later on. He was always giving me presents and liked to spoil me. We would fly off on short holidays in neighbouring countries.
He said he was waiting for the right time to divorce his wife, so I was patient. But I forgot to take my birth control pills on one romantic weekend away so when I told him I was pregnant, he was furious. So I reminded him to divorce his wife, so we could start a new life together. He stormed out and did not contact me for several days.
He told me to pack, and that we would marry in Thailand, and that he would sort out the papers on our return.
That is how I became his third wife. We have a 19-month-old baby, and as I cannot work and stay at home to look after the kid, he said that I have become boring, unattractive and a nag, because I complain that he is always away with his other wives and children.
Today, I found that he has met another, younger woman. I should have realised that he was a serial womaniser. I want a divorce, but he said he has nothing to give me, and yet I find he has money to buy a new car, and take holidays abroad. I know this from his Facebook profile.
I spoke to some of my divorced friends, and they said that they gave up trying to get alimony for themselves and maintenance for their children. The Syariah courts were not helpful. I think clever lawyers help the men find loopholes, so they can hide, and evade payments.
Many of my friends scrape by with two or three jobs, just to put food on the table.
I think that marrying is made too easy for the Malay man. A new marriage, for them, is like changing clothes. When he is fed up with the garment, he does not even bother to launder it, he just changes it for a new one. That is how it is with us wives. The husband just finds a new woman, without being responsible for his former wives.
If former husbands were forced to pay alimony, or else face jail, or have their assets seized and liquidated to pay for alimony and maintenance, they might think twice about marrying again.
I also think about the sons in these families. They have no role models and grow up thinking that they can be equally irresponsible as their fathers who are seldom around...”
So, when will the politicians in Perak’s PH be courageous and help the women, instead of helping to create more polygamous husbands? These men, and their philandering ways have contributed to a broken society, and many broken homes.