The Women’s Legal Centre has urged the State to fast-track legislation recognizing Muslim Marriages in South Africa.
The Centre took government to court in 2014, in a bid to prove that muslim women married in accordance with Sharia law, and their subsequent children, were unfairly discriminated against and deprived of rights and services related to divorce and property.
The Constitutional court agreed that certain sections of the the Marriage Act 25 of 1961 and Divorce Act 70 of 1979, and common law, are inconsistent with the constitution.
Speaking to VOC Breakfast, the Centre’s director Seehaam Semaai welcomed the interim relief being provided until adjusted legislation is concluded.
This includes the application of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, legally recognizing muslim contracts.
The current Divorce Act will also be implemented during court proceedings of Muslim marriages that have been terminated since December 2014, where these will be considered ‘out of community of property’.
Regarding these talaaq cases, the court must also ensure that assets and polygamous contracts are considered in a just and equitable manner, considering all affected parties. Minor children born from muslim marriages will also be protected under the Children’s Act.
The State needs to either amend the current legislation, or enact new legislation, within the next two years.
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