updated 22 Dec 2011, 12:16
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Fri, Oct 21, 2011
The Star/ANN
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Use carrot, not stick, to reduce divorce
by Lim Wey Wen

KUALA LUMPUR - To reduce the number of divorce cases, the Kelantan Government should look at ways to help strengthen family ties instead of focusing on punitive measures, said Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

Commenting on reports about the state government's willingness to consider whipping and jailing couples that divorce without valid reasons, Shahrizat said it was more important to address issues that concern the welfare of the spouses and children when divorces happen.

"Many of the complaints we receive at the ministry revolve around issues with the payment of nafkah (child care expenses) to spouses.

"When a divorce happens, it is often that the children's welfare is neglected," she said after opening the Commuter Family seminar at Seri Pacific Hotel here yesterday.

Suggesting intervention programmes instead, Shahrizat said the promotion of a work-life balance, allocation of paternity and maternity leave, and the provision of tax incentives for employers to build childcare centres were vital to strengthen the family institution.

"Today, there are many families that are required to stay apart due to work commitments," she said.

She added that this had become an issue because these "commuter families" often found it difficult to maintain long-distance relationships.

Shahrizat also noted that she had received many letters from teachers who were seeking her support for their transfer applications so that they could be with their families.

"Today, women make up about 50 per cent of our workforce and there is no way we can stop women from continuing to work. That is why we need more policies and infrastructure to help families achieve a work-life balance," she said.

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