A Pan-African non-governmental not-for profit women’s rights network, Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) has called on the government to ensure the registration of Muslim marriages, while has embarked on a nine month project to create awareness about the need for Islamic marriages in the country to be legally registered, just like the ordinance and customary marriages.
The women’s rights network, WiLDAF, observed that Ghana practiced three main types of marriage systems, namely the customary, ordinance and the Mohammedans ordinance (CAP 129), but only two of the marriages, the customs and ordinance, had gained major recognition legally, even though the three are supposed to be legally protected.
Addressing a four day workshop organised by WiLDAF and sponsored by Star Ghana Limited, which was attended by representatives of all the Muslim sects in the country at Klefe in the Ho Municipality, the National Programme Coordinator of WiLDAF, Madam Bernice Sam, stressed the need for equal opportunity for all, including te registration of marriages, without any form of discrimination.
Madam Sam explained that the project embarked upon by her outfit was to help provide the basic education among the Muslim community in the country on the importance of registering their marriages, which was covered under the laws of the nation, and would enable the beneficiaries of the programme to educate others to embrace it.
She expressed regret that over the years people involved in customary marriage and marriage by ordinance had such marriages registered, but that of the Mohammedans was not recognised, even though it was clearly stated in the constitution of the country.
Madam Sam pointed out that the custom and ordinance marriage registrations were provided with the necessary tools for registration at the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, but that of the Mohammedans were not provided over the years, thereby rendering all Muslim marriages unrecognised and not protected under the law.
She, therefore, urged the government to put in place the necessary measures, including training programmes for Imams, to enable them qualify to conduct legally constituted Muslim marriages, as well as provide a register for the registration of Muslim marriages, as was done in the custom and ordinance marriages at the assembly level in the country.
Madam Sam further stressed that the continuous delay in ensuring that Muslim marriages were properly constituted and registered, ought to be seen as a violation of the human rights of the affected couples, adding that even though Muslims conducted marriages over the years and certificates of marriage issued, such marriages were still not recognised, because those who conducted them were not recognised, because of the inability to register them.
A participant and a lecturer at the Methodist University, Madam Aisha Abdul-Kadiri, noted that the silence by present and past governments to provide the needed tools and register to facilitate registration of Muslim marriages was very unfortunate and efforts should be made by the government, to enable Muslim couples to enjoy the legal benefits under the law.
A Director of the Muslim Media Group, Alhaji Alhassan Abdulai, pointed out that even though Muslims over the years engaged in marriage activities, couples could not boast of any marriage titles, and made a passionate appeal to the Muslim caucus in Parliament to help ensure that Muslims register their marriages, as provided under the Constitution.