Malaysian authorities are proposing an amendment to the Marriage and Divorce Act to allow Muslim converts to file for divorce in civil courts and to prevent them from being abused by their spouses, a senior federal counsel said here on Tuesday.

Mohamad Naser Disa said currently, the law was only applicable to non-Muslims in this multi-ethnic, multi-religious country which had a mix of majority Muslims, and minority Hindu, Christian, Sikh and Buddhist population.

“It (amendment) is meant to avoid Muslim converts from being abused by their spouses who refuse to file the petition for divorce, (but) with the amendment, they (converts) can do so in the civil courts,” he said at a special briefing on laws pertaining to religious conversion at the Federal Territory Mosque here.

The amendment is also aimed at making effective the annulment of a civil marriage to three months after the conversion of a spouse to Islam, he added.

Besides, Mr. Mohamad Naser said the proposed amendment would give the civil courts power to decide on matters pertaining to the division of jointly acquired matrimonial property, alimony and child custody, as well as to prohibit the mother or father from registering the religious conversion of their children.

“This is to avoid a tussle for the body of the convert,” he said.

In the past there had been cases when the families of a deceased person who converted to Islam without informing his family, were unable to claim the body for funeral.

Mr. Mohamed Naser said a section of the Islamic Family Law Act would also be amended to give power to the Shariah Court judge to allow a convert to marry.

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