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Muslim Marriages Bill urged forward

Muslim Marriages Bill urged forward

Published by The Cape Times 02 December 2015

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THE Com­mis­sion for Gen­der Equal­ity was made a friend of the court in the Women’s Legal Cen­tre Trust’s appli­ca­tion to have the Mus­lim Mar­riages Bill made law.

In the West­ern Cape High Court yes­ter­day, advo­cate Michael Bishop appeared on behalf of the com­mis­sion before Judge Siraj Desai, who agreed to the appli­ca­tion.

But unlike the trust, which is demand­ing the bill be made law, Bishop said the com­mis­sion would rather put for­ward argu­ments that ordered leg­isla­tive bod­ies to con­sider pass­ing the bill.

Mus­lim mar­riages would be recog­nised when the bill became law.

“The Women’s Legal Cen­tre Trust seeks an order that requires Par­lia­ment to act, but this court can­not order Par­lia­ment to act. We pro­pose giv­ing Par­lia­ment an oppor­tu­nity to con­sider and pass the Bill,” Bishop said.

The trust has taken Pres­i­dent Jacob Zuma, Par­lia­ment, the depart­ments of home affairs, and jus­tice and cor­rec­tional ser­vices to court to have Mus­lim mar­riages recog­nised with the pass­ing of the Mus­lim Mar­riages Bill.

A friend of the court is a party that is not directly involved in the case but that offers rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion. Other amici curia, or friends of the court, include the Jamiatul Ulama KwaZu­lu­Na­tal, South African Lawyers for Change, The Law Soci­ety of South Africa, the United Ulama Coun­cil of South Africa, and the Islamic Unity Con­ven­tion.

The hear­ing was set aside for three days this week, but it was likely to con­tinue into next year, trust attor­ney Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker said yes­ter­day.

The process was started in 2010 when a notice was pub­lished in the Gov­ern­ment Gazette, fol­lowed by invi­ta­tions for pub­lic com­ment.

Abrahams-Fayker said Mus­lim women had remained socially vul­ner­a­ble and dis­ad­van­taged, because noth­ing had been done since.

Abrahams-Fayker pre­vi­ously said the respon­dents had failed to ful­fil the oblig­a­tions imposed on them by the con­sti­tu­tion – that “all con­sti­tu­tional oblig­a­tions must be per­formed dili­gently and with­out delay”.

“The Women’s Legal Cen­tre Trust pro­vides free legal advice to women, and over the years we have noticed the issue most women come for­ward with is the con­se­quences they expe­ri­ence when they attempt to leave a mar­riage. Because a man is often the bread­win­ner, the woman is left with no place to stay,” Abrahams-Fayker said.

The Mus­lim Assem­bly also put for­ward an appli­ca­tion yes­ter­day to have affi­davits filed in found­ing papers to be used as evi­dence in court.

The assem­bly is a community-based organ­i­sa­tion that caters to the reli­gious, social and edu­ca­tional uplift­ment of Mus­lims in the province.

It, among oth­ers, grants divorces to women.

The case is expected to con­tinue today.


Francesca Vil­lette — Cape Times 2 Decem­ber 2015


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