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Justice Calls for Comment on Muslim Marriages Bill

January 19, 2011

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

The justice and constitutional development department has called for comment on the Muslim Marriages Bill.

Written comment is invited until 15 March 2011.

Cabinet approved the bill at its final meeting of 2010.

According to a statement released by the department, the bill flows from an investigation by the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) on Islamic marriages and related matters.

The SALRC published its report on Islamic marriages in 2003.

It proposed legislation to provide greater certainty to Muslim marriages, thereby affording Muslim women better protection in accordance with Islamic tenets and principles.

A key aim of the bill is to “provide statutory recognition of Muslim marriages in order to redress inequities and hardships arising from the non-recognition of these marriages”.

The bill applies to those who adhere to the Muslim religion. However, an opt-out provision is contained in the bill.

In a nutshell, the proposed legislation sets out a statutory framework for the legal recognition of Muslim marriages.

Presently, many people are unable to approach the courts for relief in the event of a marital dispute or breakdown due to cost constraints.

The bill seeks to:

• Make provision for the recognition of Muslim marriages
• Specify the requirements for a valid Muslim marriage
• Regulate the registration of Muslim marriages
• Recognise the status and capacity of spouses in Muslim marriages
• Regulate the proprietary consequences of Muslim marriages
• Regulate the termination of Muslim marriages