‘The government is always perfectly happy to relegate minority women to kangaroo courts and faith-based parallel legal systems’
By Maya Oppenheim, @mayaoppenheim
Women are being left to go through religious courts which make rulings that force them to stay with their partners even when they are unhappy, or rule them unable to claim money or property from their de-facto husbands after marriages dissolve ( Getty )
British women are increasingly being pressured into polygamous relationships or left without child support when relationships break up because UK law does not offer adequate protection to spouses in religious marriages, campaigners have warned.
Activists say there is a growing problem of men “marrying” women in religious ceremonies but refusing to legally register the unions – and subsequently avoiding the financial and other duties owed to a spouse.
Women are being left to go through religious courts, which make rulings that force them to stay with their partners even when they are unhappy, or rule them unable to claim money or property from their de facto husbands after marriages dissolve.
The warnings come after the government intervened via the attorney general in a landmark case last week in an attempt to overturn a family court judge’s decision that a woman was entitled to apply for maintenance payments despite the fact they were not legally married.
Nasreen Akhter had a nikah, which is an Islamic marriage ceremony, that led to a Muslim marriage contract between herself and Mohammed Khan.
The couple, who were married for 18 years and have four children together, were deemed to be married in the UK and the United Arab Emirates, where they lived from 2005 to 2011, for tax reasons and other purposes.
Ms Akhter, a 47-year-old solicitor, said she was keen to have a civil marriage and presumed they would do so, but her husband refused. She alleges their relationship dissolved after he said he wanted to take another wife.