‘State govt tightens screw on marriage cheats’

Fatimah shows her winding-up speech which was presented at the State Legislative Assembly yesterday.

KUCHING: The state government is keen to curb cheating in monogamous marriages among non-Muslims in an effort to protect the rights of women in the state.

Minister of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said the state government has been collaborating with the National Registration Department and the Majlis Adat Istiadat (MAIS) to get access to the Native Marriage Electronic System (NAMES).

Through this cooperation, she said that adherence to the Act 164 Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) 1976, Part II, Section 5(1) and Native Custom (Declaration) Ordinance, 1996; MAIS Ordinance 1977; Native Court Ordinance, 1992; and Native Court Rules, 1993; Laws of Sarawak (Chapter 55) – Native Customary Marriages (Maintenance) Ordinance, 2003 can be implemented.

“For example, up to April this year, a total of 167 individuals were detected of requesting to register civil marriages even though they were still in customary marriage. With this strategic cooperation, the marriage which are unfair for women and next of kin can be avoided,” she added during her winding up speech in the august House yesterday.

She also said that her ministry through the Women and Family department had been working hard to raise understanding between husbands and wives in the state  so that more married couples can have happy marriages.

Hence, her ministry has created two courses namely ‘Bengkel Perkahwinan: Till Jannah’ for married Muslim couples and ‘The Marriage Course: Smart Marriage’ for non-Muslim couples.

“Through these programmes, we have managed to provide opportunities for 234 couples by helping them to understand the responsibilities of married couples and parents apart from mastering communication skills which help couples communicate effectively. From our survey 97.08 per cent of those who registered for the programme said the programme has helped them and their spouse to understand their responsibility as a couple or husband and wife,” she said.

On a related matter, Fatimah said that based on domestic violence cases reported to the police, her ministry had created a comprehensive standard operating procedure (SOP) between the relevant agencies.

This particular SOP applicable by the police, Welfare Department, One Stop Crisis Centre, Health Department and the Women and Family Department was developed to standardise governance of domestic violence cases in the state so that the victims who are mostly women can be taken care of promptly.

National Statistics Department revealed that in 2016, 1.3 million out of 2.7 million people in the state are women.

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