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Nov 21, 2008

Sisters in Islam hits out at ‘tomboy’ fatwa

malaysiainsider | Sisters in Islam today took the religious authorities to task for its fatwa on “tomboys”, saying that it could lead to arbitrary arrests and undue harassment of Muslim women and girls.

In a statement, it questioned the authorities’ definition of “tomboys”.

“A woman with short hair? Wearing pants? Wearing shirts? No make-up? Many Malaysian women sport short hair, wear pants, shirts and don't wear make-up. It is culturally normal for Malaysian women to be body comfortable with each other — many women hold hands, hug their friends or kiss their friends on the cheek,” it said.

“And how do the authorities define 'manly' behaviour? Not gentle and demure enough? Talking too loud? Who would and how could one define and determine whether a woman is a tomboy or a lesbian?”

SIS said the government, political and religious leaders, including the National Fatwa Council, should give more focus to the effort of upholding justice, equality, civil liberty and democracy in Malaysia, which are intrinsic values in Islam.

The movement said it was concerned with the continuous sexist and discriminatory approach towards Malaysian women, especially Muslim women.

“Sexist remarks issued by our parliamentarians, instructions by political leaders for women not to wear high heels and lipstick, giving preference to non-beautiful women to occupy job positions, prohibiting women to sing in public, and now the fatwa on 'tomboys' are all alarming regressive trends.”

SIS said women who do not dress or behave as what certain quarters perceive not as feminine are not a menace to society. “In fact, many of these women hold respectable positions and actively contribute to our society.”

It wondered why the fatwa was only imposed on women, saying that this was yet another example of selective prosecution.... more.
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