South Africa 31.8.2018 12:39 pm

Govt ordered to recognise Muslim marriages within next two years

Judge Siraj Desai.  (Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Ruvan Boshoff)

Judge Siraj Desai. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Ruvan Boshoff)

Judge Siraj Desai says President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet failed to fulfil their constitutional obligations.

The Western Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai slammed government for not recognising Muslim marriages on Friday and ordered that the state should introduce legislation recognising the marriages in the next two years.

The Women’s Legal Centre in Cape Town had taken the government to court to over what they described as limited privileges for Muslim women as compared to other marriages.

They argued that since Muslim marriages are not recognised by the state, it becomes difficult for women to claim anything should the couple decide to divorce.

In his judgement, Desai said President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet failed to fulfil their constitutional obligations.

“Is it declared that the state is obliged by section 7[2] of the Constitution to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights in sections 9, 10, 15, 28, 31 and 34 of the constitution by preparing, initiating, introducing, enacting and bringing into operation, diligently and without delay as required by section 237 of the constitution, legislation to recognise marriages solemnised in accordance with the tenets of Sharia law [Muslim marriages] as valid marriages and yo regulate consequences of such recognition,” he said.

Desai also ordered justice and home affairs departments to pay the legal costs of the Women’s Legal Centre application.

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