Updated Saturday, October 25, 2008 11:20 am TWN, By Julia Zappei, AP
Islamic clerics in Malaysia issue rule to ban tomboys
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysia's main body of Islamic clerics has issued an
edict banning tomboys in the Muslim majority country, ruling that girls who act
like boys violate the tenets of Islam, an official said Friday.
The National Fatwa Council forbade the practice of girls behaving or dressing
like boys during a meeting Thursday in northern Malaysia, said Harussani Idris
Zakaria, the mufti of northern Perak state, who attended the gathering.
Harussani said an increasing number of Malaysian girls behave like tomboys, and
that some of them engage in homosexuality. Homosexuality is not explicitly
banned in Malaysia, but it is effectively illegal under a law that prohibits
sex acts "against the order of nature."
Harussani said the council's ruling was not legally binding because it has not
been passed into law, but that tomboys should be banned because their actions
"It doesn't matter if it's a law or not. When it's wrong, it's wrong. It is a
sin," Harussani told The Associated Press. "Tomboy (behavior) is forbidden in
Under the edict, girls are forbidden to sport short hair and dress, walk and
act like boys, Harussani said. Boys should also not act like girls, he said.
"They must respect God. God created them as boys, they must behave like boys.
God created them as girls, they must act like girls," he said.
Council chairman Abdul Shukor Husin said the ruling was prompted by recent
cases of young women behaving like men and indulging in homosexuality,
according to the national news agency Bernama. He did not elaborate.
Malaysian media have reported on recent incidents of school bullying among
girls, which have been caught on film and circulated on the Internet. In one
film, some girls are seen beating up another girl in a bathroom.
A well-known Malaysian Muslim actress caused an uproar last year when she
shaved her head bald for a film. Harussani and other muftis urged Muslims not
to watch the movie, arguing that the actress had violated Islam by making
herself look like a man.
"Muallaf," or "the convert," is scheduled for release in Singapore next month,
but no date has been set for its release in Malaysia.
Muslims make up some 60 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people, and are
subject to Islamic laws and the council's edicts, even if the rulings have not
been enshrined in national or Shariah law.
It was not immediately clear what kind of punishment awaited those who violate
the tomboy edict, or "fatwa." Malays generally follow the council's "fatwas"
out of deference, but violators rarely get into trouble unless the edict is
incorporated into national or Shariah law.