Activists advocating for reforms to the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) complained of the lack of momentum with regard to the reforms process.
Recently, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, Ravinatha Aryasinha had at the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Rita Izsak-Ndiaye stated that any Sri Lankan, regardless of origin, race or religion, could enter into a bond of marriage under the Marriage Registration Ordinance/Marriages (General) Ordinance while adding that the application of personal laws was not automatic but one of individual choice. This is said to be an erroneous statement. It must also be noted that provisions of the MMDA especially violate the rights of women.
The Marriages (General) Ordinance is the law relating to marriages other than the marriages of Muslims. Section 64 of the Marriage Registration Ordinance interprets marriage to mean “any marriage, save and except marriages contracted under and by virtue of the Kandyan Marriage and Divorce Act, No. 44 of 1952, and except marriages contracted between persons professing Islam”. The said Ordinance therefore does not apply to Muslims.
Elsewhere, the Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum criticized Aryasinha for what they termed was a defensive attempt to whitewash the truth and reality.
Director of the Forum, Anberiya Hanifa said that those at the grassroots level in the country were in favour of reforms.
“It is the Ulamas (Muslim religious clergy) that are opposing it,” she explained.