Yen Feng – Straits Times Indonesia
Singapore. The Obedient Wives Club has not gained widespread public support in Singapore, despite its growing popularity in the region.
About 20 families have asked to join the club – which encourages women to submit to their husbands and meet their sexual needs – since a proposal was made last month to set it up here, said its Singapore representative Azman Ari.
The 45-year-old businessman said that this number was ‘on the low side’. But, he added, it was not reflective of the club’s popularity worldwide.
‘We have had a lot of support from the Muslim community in Jordan, Malaysia and Indonesia,’ he said.
‘Rather than ask who would support such a club, why not ask, ‘Which husband would not want his wife to be 100 per cent obedient to him?”
Founders of the club, which was launched in Kuala Lumpur last month, claim its ethos is in line with Islamic teachings for building strong families.
They say sexually fulfilled men are less likely to stray. Therefore, marriages are less likely to break down.
The club now has about 1,000 members worldwide. It was founded by the Malaysia-based business group Global Ikhwan, which also supports polygamy. Branches in Paris, London and other parts of Europe are reportedly scheduled to open by the end of the year.
Despite its apparent appeal elsewhere, the club has not gained a significant foothold in Singapore, where 15 per cent of the population is Muslim and where the divorce rate among Muslims is declining.
In 2006, there were 1,944 cases of Muslim couples splitting up compared with 1,626 last year.
So far, the majority of Obedient Wives Club members in Singapore are the friends and family of Mr Azman. He heads the club with his sister Hamidah Ari and a professor of literature, Dr Darlan Zaini, 70. Most are also men, he added.
Anyone can join the club – even non-Muslims. Activities planned for members include talks, seminars and counselling workshops for couples.
Since news of a possible branch here broke last month, the Association of Women for Action and Research and the Singapore Muslim Women’s Association have denounced the club for having what seems to be a regressive stance on women’s rights.
Some wonder if the club reflects a growing religiosity among Muslims.
The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said last month that the club’s views were ‘simplistic’. It said in a statement to the media: ‘Happiness in a marriage goes beyond receiving sexual fulfillment from one’s wife.’
The club’s Singapore representatives disagree, however. Dr Darlan argued in an e-mail message to The Straits Times last week that ‘complex human problems can be solved by simple means and ideas’.
Rather than demean women, he believes the club will make husbands more aware of their responsibilities as leaders of the household.
This was the view taken by the club’s supporters.
Accounts manager Abdul Rab Taib, 48, who has been married for 20 years, said that submissive wives encourage husbands to be more loving and caring.
He added: ‘It’s about having the right intention. If the intention is to be kind and protect our wives, then I think joining the club can benefit my family.’
Kamaliah Ismail, 52, a housewife, said it was her obedience that kept her by her husband’s side for the last 30 years. He was paralyzed from a stroke many years ago.
‘God sees what is in my heart. Because I am obedient, my family is blessed,’ she said.
Muslim leaders contacted by The Straits Times mostly declined to comment, saying that Muis – the nation’s top Islamic authority – has already made clear its stand against the club’s views.
Ustaz Abdul Rahman Sahid of the Darul Aman Mosque in Jalan Eunos said that until the club made its plans clear, he saw no real benefit to Muslim women.
He added that the club’s founders might consider changing its name: ‘What do you mean by ‘obedient’?
‘If women choose not to join, does that mean they are disobedient?’
Reprinted courtesy of Straits Times Indonesia. To subscribe to
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