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Legislation: Parliament gets proposed Muslim marriages Bill

Ahead of an expected judgment from the Constitutional Court on the recognition of Muslim marriages, the Al Jamah-ah Party has submitted a Private Members Bill, on a proposed interim registration of Muslim marriages, to the Speaker of Parliament, notes a Cape Argus report. Party leader Ganief Hendricks said the new Bill was in response to a recent judgment by the SCA and the party’s position in respect of the Green Paper, published by the Department of Home Affairs. Hendricks said: ‘The Bill is a minimalist piece of legislation, aimed at just registering a nikah, which is a marriage performed by an imam – with consequences including proprietary benefits, in terms of the Islamic tenets/rulings on marriage.

‘It also provides for a pre-nuptial marital contract before marriage, which can subject the marriage relationship to some of the provisions of the 20 Acts of Parliament relating to marriages. This Bill gives couples a definite choice.’ Hendricks says this new Bill is not an opt out and will be Islamic compliant with correct advice. He said this was as opposed to the Marriage Act, which – in line with the SCA ruling from earlier in the year – would be passed in 2024. He said both the Marriage Act and the Divorce Act had provisions which are against the rulings of Islam. The report notes the Constitutional Court reserved judgment this month in the application by the Women's Legal Centre, which wanted it to confirm an order of the SCA, made in December last year. The SCA order said that it recognised the injustice and stigma suffered by Muslim women because of the non-recognition of marriages concluded in terms of Sharia law and gave the state 24 months to remedy the defects in the law.

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