Sabah Muslim wives see red
Kota Kinabalu: Muslim women in Sabah have reacted angrily to PAS Perak Information Chief, Wan Tarmizi Abd Aziz's proposal that wives allow their husbands to remarry as a symbol of appreciation for the women community on Women's Day itself.
Apparently, he made the proposal on International Women's Day this year and it resurfaced on social media this week.
"Women's Day will be more meaningful if a woman were to present another woman as a 'gift' to her partner as a token of appreciation for the other woman," he had said in his Facebook Page posting.
He had also said that he would not tender any apology as what he had imparted is within the context of Islam.
Polygamy is not a trivial matter and neither is it the key to marital happiness, said former Minister of Community Development and Consumer Affairs, Datuk Jainab Ahmad Ayid.
"On the contrary, it can potentially cause heartaches to wives and children. In reality, in a polygamous marriage, most Muslim husbands are unable to treat their wives equally and can't meet their conjugal needs.
In this case, their failure is an act of mental abuse to their wives and children.
"If polygamy is practised solely for fulfilment of lust, then it will destroy the family institution and have negative effects on child and family development," she pointed out.
As the slogan Semakin Hari Semakin Sayang goes, the former Karambunai Assemblywoman stressed that a wife should be increasingly dear to her husband as the days go by, and not simply offer another woman for him to marry again.
Jainab also hoped that the country's leaders wherever they are, would consider the pros and cons of certain sensitive issues prior to airing their views or making statements/proposals.
"Women are making great sacrifices in life and deserve to be appreciated by their husbands, instead of breaking their hearts or hurting their feelings," she said.
Past Chairperson of the Sabah Women's Advisory Council (MPWS), Datuk Mariati Robert found it saddening and appalling that in this day and age, there is still in existence such a man so grossly lacking in gender awareness and devoid of respect for women.
"Simply, he has a myopic opinion of women and is just so far removed from the realities of the 21st century where globally, women celebrate Women's Day to assess how far they have come and take stock of how much still needs to be done to advance their causes.
"Nowhere is it the business of a woman to treat another woman as a commodity to be 'awarded' to her partner on Women's Day or any other day as suggested by Wan Tarmizi. I am shocked to the core," she said.
It only goes to show, unfortunately, how much more work still needs to be done by women in their quest for gender equality and respect from the menfolk, Mariati added.
Former Deputy State Secretary, Datuk Noni Said said such preposterous proposal had incurred the wrath of every right-thinking Muslim man and woman.
"To most Muslim women, polygamy is not bliss. Would Wan Tarmizi encourage his own daughter, if he has one, to do likewise so that polygamy would eventually destroy her marriage?" she asked.
If anything, Noni asserted, it was a bad reflection on PAS political leaders and might cause the party to lose the support of women voters in the 15th General Election.
"I won't be surprised if that happens. For him to make such a proposal is downright insulting to women.
He treats women as if they are 'chattels'. He has absolutely no respect for women. I think he is 'crazy', his mind is perverted by unhealthy thoughts," she said, wondering whether his wife subscribes to his idea.
In Hanaa Wong Abdullah's opinion, Wan Tarmizi's suggestion is offensive to her and probably to many other women.
"Many would disagree that gifting another woman to her husband, whether it is allowed by religion or the Syariah law or otherwise, is in any way empowering for anyone. This line of thinking, to regard another human being as an object, and to be gifted, is a blatant violation of our human rights," said the Founder of Sabah Women Enterprising Group.
She is confident that most Malaysians will not regard this suggestion as worth considering seriously, if at all, adding "It's sheer nonsense." - Mary Chin