• Post category:News

Why Discriminate Against Women?

Sarawak Women for Women Society, Press Release - 19 May 2021

SWWS is dumfounded that the Malaysian Government has appealed against a recent court decision which dismissed their stance that six mothers’ legal action to have their children born overseas to foreign fathers automatically entitled to citizenship was frivolous, vexatious and abuse of court processes.

The mothers brought their action as, unlike Malaysian men who marry foreign women and have children when living abroad, they do not have the automatic right to pass on their citizenship to their children.

Women are clearly discriminated against which is counter to Article 8 (2) of the Federal Constitution which disallows gender discrimination.  The problem occurs as this part of the Constitution was amended to include gender later than the inclusion of Schedule 1 (b) and (c), Article 14, which deals with citizenship for persons born outside of Malaysia. Within these Schedules, only fathers are mentioned not mothers or either parent.

The judge who held the first hearing on May 6th had decreed that the case should continue in his court next month and not be struck off as the Government had asked.  He was very clear that in his view there was discrimination so the Government should proceed by giving justification why the discrimination in these circumstances should be allowed and then he would consider the case on its merits.

SWWS cannot understand why the Federal Government, rather than allowing these important constitutional issues to be considered by the law, instead wants the issue to be dismissed. This is not a frivolous issue – it affects children and families lives – and causes great distress and uncertainty.  

Transnational marriage is becoming more common in these global days and there are many reasons why women can be abroad at the time of birth, including study, and then return home. Why should they and their children face discrimination?  Had the child been born in Malaysia they would automatically be given Malaysian citizenship as the constitution in that situation mentions either parent not father. 

In SWWS’s view the discussion about how to resolve the disharmony in the Federal Constitution needs to be heard in the courts and not be blocked by labeling women’s concerns over their rights as frivolous.