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To: Civil Society, Social Justice Sector, Law and Constitutional Development

Respect Customary Marriages In South Africa


Our Bill of Rights Enshrines the Rights to Equality, Dignity and Religious Freedom.

Yet 22 years after ‘democracy’ in #SouthAfrica — all customary law marriages are still not recognized. This means that a marriage in customary law is regarded as inferior and invalid. It also means that if a woman’s partner dies without a will, or they are married and divorced without a financial agreement, she is not entitled to anything, unless she goes to court to beg. This is Economic Abuse. Where does it leave their children? Are they then ‘illegitimate’? Do they have any human rights in a supposedly post apartheid society?

How Can You Get Involved In This Struggle For Social Justice?

- Support Women’s Legal Centre in the case of Shabierah Dawray
- Host national discussions ahead of the August 2017 hearing
- Share your experiences and stories through print, radio, video
- Start a protest march/creative demonstration in your town or city
- Help make a play/film exposing impacts of marriage discrimination
- Support the campaign through awareness, funding and volunteering
- Share the flyer and petitio via print, email, chat, and social media

HASHTAGS: #EqualMarriageRights #RecogniseCustomaryMarriage #MuslimMarriage #WomensRightsMatter #Justice4Women #SouthAfrica


Women's Legal Centre:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (021) 424 5660
Twitter: @WLCcapetown

Stand UP! Foundation
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 082 325 4136
Equal Marriage Rights South Africa

Why is this important?

MEDIA RELEASE: New date agreed by the parties in the recognition of Muslim marriages class action

Today, Monday 20 March 2017, the before Human Rights Day, a new date was agreed by the parties concerned for the recognition of Muslim marriages class action to heard by the High Court. The 28th August has been agreed.
A directions hearing was convened by the High Court this morning after the Judge President ordered the consolidation of a further matter pending before the High Court which similarly highlights the plight of Muslim women.
There are several matters that are pending at a number of courts across the country. This is testament to the fact that Muslim women are struggling to assert their rights because their Muslim marriages and the consequences arising therefrom are not legally recognised. They have no option but to plead their cases with the courts and the judiciary.
Given the importance of the matter three judges have now been appointed to hear the matter. Namely; Judges S Desai, G Salie-Hlophe and NP Boqwana.
This morning saw women come to the steps of the High Court from all over Cape Town to show solidarity and support for this matter. The lived reality of these women is that legal protection has been denied to them some 16 years after the Constitution came into force. This results in widespread oppression and gender discrimination in areas such as divorce, the duties of support, parental rights and responsibilities and inheritance.

Press Release On Other Case Outcomes:
Article: Are nikah and sindoor equal to wedding rings and lobola?:
Also Read:

How it will be delivered

This petition and its signatures are shared nationally and globally.

It will be submitted to relevant law - justice sectors for further actions.

It will support a public interest class action for those who are affected




2017-09-19 12:57:52 +0200

A Western Cape High Court judge has declared the Wills Act inconsistent with the constitution, as it only recognises legal marriages and not Muslim marriages.

2017-04-11 22:24:46 +0200

25 signatures reached

2016-11-01 11:00:51 +0200

10 signatures reached