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Fatwa on tomboys violates constitution

KUALA LUMPUR, 11 Nov 2008: A collective promoting women’s political participation says the fatwa on tomboyism and the proposed ruling on yoga contravene the constitution and Malaysia’s international commitments.

The Women’s Candidacy Initiative (WCI) said the fatwa on tomboys contravenes Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, which prohibits gender discrimination.

The WCI added that any ruling that has legal effect must be made by democratically elected representatives.

“Legal authority in a democracy must be granted by the people, and laws ought be made only by democratically elected representatives. Such fatwas that have legal effect disempower the citizenry,” the WCI said in a statement today.

The coalition also said that guilt should not be presumed based on a person’s physical appearance or how they dress or behave.

“These in themselves do no harm to others and are positive expressions of self-identity,” the WCI said, adding that these kinds of fatwas are an infringement of the private lives and consciences of Malaysians.

It said the fatwa on tomboyism and the proposed ruling on yoga also violate Malaysia’s commitment under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw).

“The fatwa on yoga violates Malaysia’s commitment to Cedaw, which includes issues of a woman’s autonomy and control over her own body and health.”

The WCI called on religious authorities to refrain from intervening in the personal lives of Malaysians, saying this would disempower and marginalise segments of society.

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