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Buddhist Women Interfaith Marriage Law is Necessary to Protect the Burmese Buddhist Women’s Rights

June 24, 2013

Burmese Buddhist Women Interfaith Marriage Law is Necessary to Protect the Burmese Buddhist Women’s Rights
We have just read the draft Burmese Buddhist Marriage Law proposed by Buddhist Monks and we totally understand why religious leaders are taking the lead proposing such law in Burma. We also understand that the proposed draft law is referring and referencing a lot on Singapore’s marriage law and we also realize that no-one make any noise about Singaporeans’ law.
Even in accordance with Burma’s 1954 marriage law, there is no protection on Burmese Buddhist Women who marry with non-Buddhists. Burmese Buddhist Women are the ones who suffered most and lost all their rights since there is no protection by state. They got no legal rights, religious rights nor civil rights whatsoever after Burmese Buddhist Women married with non-Buddhist.
We believe it could be the driving force behind Why Burmese Buddhist Monks Are Proposing To Draft Burmese Buddhist Women Marriage Law since according to the existing law of Burma, Burmese Buddhist Women Lost Their Rights After Married With Non-Buddhist. we also understand why they are using Burmese Buddhist WOMEN Marriage Law since WOMEN are the ones who lost all their rights.
Please study the following extract from RELIGION AND FAMILY LAW IN BURMA by U Aye Kyaw of CORNELL UNIVERSITY who is a SOUTHEAST ASIA PROGRAM FELLOW
Law With Reference To Burmese Buddhist Women’s Mixed Marriage
With respect to mixed marriages, the principle of the
lex loci contratus is accepted, but the importance of mixed
marriages is not clear in the law. The courts in Burma, therefore, had been frequently
called upon to decide the validity of de facto mixed marriages,
especially when questions arising from divorce, succession,
or partition of property were involved. In fact, no marriage
is legally possible between a Mahommedan man and a Buddhist
woman, or between a Buddhist man and a Mahommedan
woman. This is mainly because, under Mahommedan law, a
Mahommedan man or woman cannot contract a legal marriage
with a person who does not believe in a heavenly or
revealed religion and who is not kitabis. In other words, a
Mahom- medan, who professes faith in Allah, all His Angels,
all His Books, all His Prophets, the Day of Judgment, and the
idea that the power of doing good and bad actions proceeds
from Allah and Allah alone, cannot marry a person who disbelieves
in these.25 However, if there is a conversion to Islam,
and a customary ceremony is performed according to Islamic rites, a legal marriage can be contracted with any person irrespective of his or her previous religion. The Holy Quran permits polygamy as a legal institution, and sets forth the
limits that a man may not have more than four wives.26 In
Burma particularly, during colonial rule, most Mohammedan
men who could afford the maintenance of more than one
wife took Burmese women as their wives in addition to their
Mohammedan wives who might live with them in Burma or
who might live in India. In such cases Burmese wives had to
change their Burmese names to Mahommedan names. The
offspring of a Muslim father and Burmese Buddhist mother
were known as Zerbadi and tended to identify with the people
of their father’s race. Just before the second world war
these Zebardis preferred to be called “Burmese Muslims” and .
they are known by this name in present Burmese society.

In such mixed marriages, the validity of de facto
marriages did not, as a rule, raise any legal questions at the
time they were first contracted, despite the fact that the Burmese
wives lost all rights which they legitimately had as
Burmese women, such as joint ownership of property, a preferential right to inherit and the like. The legal questions only
arose when the cases of divorce were brought to the courts.
The Holy Quran, of course, makes no provision for wives to
divorce their husbands-a right normally reserved to
husbands-except when they fear abuse. The Mahom- medan
law formed the rule of decision. According to it,
A Mahomedan can divorce his wife whenever he
desires. He may do so without a talaknama or written
document, and no particular form of words is prescribed.
If the words used are well understood as
implying divorce, such as “talak”, no proof of intention
is required; otherwise the intention must be
proved. It is not necessary that the repudiation should
be pronounced in the presence of the wife or even
addressed to her.

The result was that antagonism among
the diverse religious communities, though not apparent in
the beginning when the Act was put into force, eventually
gathered strength as questions of maintenance, divorce or
inheritance arose, and as Burmese women, albeit embracing
new religions, and adopting new names when they took Indian
husbands, found themselves mere mistresses and their
offspring bastards, both legal nonentities.
This situation was known to the colonial government as well as to Burmese nationalists and judges.
Reference: U AYE KYAW, RELIGION AND FAMILY LAW IN BURMA, SOUTHEAST ASIA PROGRAM FELLOW CORNELL UNIVERSITY
Ref: http://www.siamese-heritage.org/jsspdf/1991/JSS_080_2e_AyeKyaw_ReligionAndFamilyLawInBurma.pdf
Note: Mahommedan refers (in ancient time) to Muslim who follows Islam.

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