Divorce Warnings Over Religious Marriages

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Charity Urges Women to Get Registered

A campaign group in Birmingham is warning thousands of Muslim women that they will have no rights if they divorce, because their marriages are not recognised under UK law. Charity Aurat, which supports women affected by cultural based abuse, says the it will impact those women who have not backed up their religious or Sharia marriage with that of a civil ceremony. One victim spoke of the heartbreaking effect it had on her.

 

“I was homeless. I tried to commit suicide. I went to see my solicitors, but they said they couldn’t do anything because I wasn’t registered with him. So I wasn’t entitled to anything. They told me the nikah wasn’t legally recognised in this country, I didn’t know this.”

 

Lawyer Anna Khan, who plans to visit communities to raise awareness on the issue, said that it was a growing problem. “For the last five years I have noticed that it has gone from 50% to 80% of callers to me, who are saying their marriages are not registered under English law.”

 

According to Aurat, many younger women are unaware that their Islamic ceremony is not legally recognised. It is also because many mosques are not registered to conduct civil marriages. Habiba Jaan from the charity said, “It is because parents do not feel it is important either anymore. In the last three months I know of three young women who have been married, but they have not registered it.”

 

Birmingham’s Central Mosque is one of 250, which have signed up to register marriages. Abdul Rashid, from the mosque, said, “I think this is not something within my power, I think this is something that people need to know.”  

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