Kuala Lumpur, Jul 8: Malaysia's Islamic courts appointed the first women judges on Thursday, Jul 8 as a move to address the gender imbalance in the nation's religious judiciary.
Malaysian Premier Najib Razak declared the appointments which were made by the king in May 2010, as an evidence of the government's commitment to transforming the Sharia judiciary. "The appointments were made to enhance justice in cases involving families and women's rights and to meet current needs," quoted the state news agency Bernama as said by the Premier.
Suraya Ramli, 31, was appointed as a Sharia judge in Putrajaya. Rafidah Abdul Razak, 39, was appointed as judge in a Kuala Lumpur Sharia court.
In the Muslim-majority country, Islamic courts run in parellel with the civil courts. Women often complained about the gender discrimination they have to face in the Islamic divorce proceedings, inheritance and child custody cases.
Sisters in Islam, the Muslim pressure group welcomed the new move as a 'positive sign for Muslims' and a move that 'the group had been advocating for over a decade'.