Thousands of couples in Muslim ‘marriages’ may have no rights (or obligations)

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Image By Linda D, on Flickr

Thousands of couples living in the UK are unmarried in the eyes of the law, even if they genuinely believe they are married.

A review into integration and opportunity in isolated and deprived communities by Dame Louise Casey revealed that there are up to 100,000 sharia marriages in the UK which are conducted by Muslim imams and solemnised at private events. Many of these ‘marriages’ are not recognised under UK laws because they are not registered at the local registry. The report quoted research from Muslim Women’s Network publication, ‘Information and Guidance on Muslim Marriage and Divorce in Britain’ which reveals that over half of the cases dealt with by Birmingham Central Mosque Sharia Council involved couples who were not married under English civil law.

The ‘worryingly high’ number of such relationships leaves the vulnerable party with no rights in the case of a break up. In most cases, that party is the economically dependent wife with a poor command of the English language.

Casey recommends that all marriages, regardless of faith, should be registered so that they are valid unions recognised under British laws. The report also criticised the discriminatory ways by which the Sharia councils operate in the UK and the rising cases of polygamy without getting in the net of law.

The full report can be read here.

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