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Aneh Dhivehin: Between Judge Abdullah Pervster and Sheikh flog-a-lot Rasheed?

May 7, 2010

As the August deadline for revamping the judicial system looms in, both political parties, whilst vehemently denying any meddling in the judiciary, seem to be doing everything in their power to get their ‘guys’ in.

MDP MP Musthafa and Adhaalath’s Sheik Rasheed have lodged complaints against Judge Mohamed Naeem and JSC member and prominent women’s human rights activist Velzinee has lodged a case to dismiss the chief judge of the criminal court Abdulla Mohamed.

Meanwhile DRP, whose former leader Gayoom appointed most of the judges, are laying low and accusing the government of interfering with the judiciary the moment anyone points a finger at the judges. They are counting on the sacredness of the idea of an independent judiciary, a system MDP activists helped bring about, to work in their favor.

The only people who don’t seem to have a powerful lobby behind them are the Aneh Dhivehin who want to be judges. To this date, no newspaper, political party or NGO has taken on the issue of female judges, not from a positive perspective anyway.

To gauge the opinion of the politicians on this issue I’ll review interviews on an article in Haveeru English pages published back in 2007 when the first female judge of the country was appointed.

As can be expected, Jameel and Hassan Saeed, both in the Gayoom government back then supported the idea and considered the timing ‘right’. Husnu Sood, our current Attorney General liked the idea but considered the timing inappropriate, adding that the decision was too ‘sudden’ and that the ‘grass roots’ level may have issues with the idea (I’m thinking he is referring to the grass roots level men). Hamid Abdul Gafoor, then MDP secretary general gave the official MDP line as “We openly welcome this decision”.

Adhaalath’s Sheikh Hussein Rasheed goes on his usual rampage. “At no time in Islamic history has women acted as judges. There are other jobs which women can fill in … However higher a woman is educated in judiciary matters, women are not allowed in Islam to act in the posts of judges”. Haveeru writer notes that ‘It is also not clear what evidence Rasheed evokes to conclude that women are not on par with men when it comes to certain areas in the Islamic way of life’.

Dr Bari, our beloved Islamic Minister, seems to have a somewhat different opinion saying “the majority of Islamic scholars” say that women cannot be appointed as judges. However he adds that “some scholars were of the view that women can be appointed as judges to oversee cases of family or domestic disputes or issues related to women.”

Fast forward to three years later: with a stronger Adhaalath party in tow, if MDP is successfully able to appoint judges of their choice, who will they be? Does Husnu Sood, now a JSC member and the Attorney General, still consider it too ‘sudden’ to introduce female judges and will he still call for a gradual (ie limited) introduction? Will Hamid Abdul Gafoor, now an MP, still back a bid to introduce more women? Will Mariya, for once, dare to compromise her chairpersonship and speak up against the Fundies within the MDP? Will DRP Anhenun ge gofi, led by Dunya Maumoon, take a stand? How much of a say will Adhaalath party have? What’s HEP’s position on this?

We all know what Adhaalath’s views on the Shariah are and we all have at least one friend/relative/mother who has been approached by a Maumoon era judge three hours after he finished up her divorce case at court.

Gloomy enough, if the liberal elements inside MDP and the women’s lobby from DRP don’t push for this, it looks like our only choice is between the Abdulla Pervsters and Sheikh flog-a-lot Rasheeds of this country.

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