South African court orders recognition of Islamic marriages News DW

South Africa does not succeed in fulfilling its constitutional obligations by not recognizing the traditional marriage between Muslims, a court ruled Friday.

The country looks at couples who are married as unmarried under Sharia law. South Africa recognizes "ordinary marriage", but only for "indigenous African peoples". This lack of supervision means that Muslim men and women can not claim legal protection in case of divorce, including claims to alimony.

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After years of debate, a group called Woman & # 39; s Legal Center (WLC) brought the case to court, arguing that the right of Muslim women was violated on equality. The group demanded that the state adopt new legislation or include couples who were married under Islamic religious rites in the current common law.

Ball in the court of parliament

The Supreme Court of the Western Cape said that the conduct of the officials according to the constitution was "invalid".

"The President and the Cabinet, together with Parliament, have the task to remedy the failure within 24 months of the date of this order as intended." It is expected that the legislature will adopt new legislation. According to the South Africa News24 outlet, the court ruled that, even if no new laws are passed in the next two years, all Muslim marriages must be subject to the current divorce certificate after the due date.

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WLC lawyer Charlene May said the ruling was a "huge victory for Muslim women in this country."

"The verdict has the potential to influence thousands of women in the country who practice and live their lives and walk around without protection," she was quoted by the AFP news agency.

The court also ordered the President and the Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs to pay the costs incurred by the Women's Legal Center Trust.

Between 1.5 and 1.9 percent of the 55 million inhabitants of South Africa are Muslims, most of them are immigrants from South Asia and North Africa.

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