A Brief Study on the Positive Attentions to Muslim Women’s Rights in Malaysia
Nik Salida Suhaila Nik Saleh

This paper examines the debate on the Malaysian laws on Muslim women’s rights with a view to identify whether the principle of gender equality governing the Muslim women’s rights laws are consistent with the global standard of women’s rights underpinned by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Women’s Convention) or not. Generally, Muslim women in Malaysia have been guaranteed legal rights as human, yet their rights are different from men because of gender. These differences have been criticized by international organisation, non-governmental organisations and individual as ‘intentional’ and purposely designed to disempowering women. In this paper, I also examine the influence of feminism in Malaysia which brought about positive attentions to women’s rights written debate in this country.By exploring the existing data of the works of leading scholars, their conceptual implications and reinterpretation, I have found that there has been a prevalent avoidance of the term ‘feminism’ in Malaysia, among others, due to the resistance of Western’s message pertaining to women’s rights issues in this local context. Even though there is a kind of ‘feminist’s phobia’ culturally, however, I argue that it does not affect an effort towards empowering Muslim women by applying the principle of equality informed by the Women’s Convention and the Islamic standard.

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