Plans for women-only mosque

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 December, 2006, 12:00am

Concern groups for Indonesian domestic helpers have launched a campaign to push for the first women-only mosque in Hong Kong.

'Women do not have enough places for Muslim prayer in Hong Kong,' said Titien Suprupti, chairwoman of Wanodya Indonesian Club. 'Some are praying in gardens and open spaces, and we feel this is not suitable. It is crowded and noisy and uncomfortable.'

Ms Titien was speaking at the launch of a conference at City University to discuss the empowerment of Muslim women.

The four existing mosques in the city did not meet the needs of Indonesian domestic helpers.

Islam dictates men and women pray separately, but mosques tend to be dominated by men.

'In a mixed mosque, the prayer leader would be male. But many workers want a female religious leader,' said Vivienne Wee, associate director of the university's Southeast Asia Research Centre. 'There are no female [Islamic] leaders in Hong Kong at the moment.'

The groups plan to set up the mosque in the middle of next year, at an estimated cost of HK$500,000 a year, including paying for a religious leader to be brought over from Indonesia. They have yet to start raising the money.

If the plans come to fruition, it is believed it would be the only female-oriented mosque outside mainland China.

The groups have gained the support of Fatayat Nahdlatul Ulama, an Indonesian organisation that aims to promote a more female-centred interpretation of Islam.