Are you one of the thousands of Muslim couples, who get married in the traditional Nikah religious ceremony every year? Did you know that the ceremony has no legal standing in UK law?
Channel 4 has commissioned a new documentary to examine whether Britain’s centuries old marriage laws should be updated to reflect and better serve today’s multicultural, multi-faith country.
Dr François, who also had a Nikah, without having a civil ceremony as well, talks to other women who are in the same position as herself. Without this legal protection, women are unable, in the event of a divorce, to go to the Family Court where the Judge would then have looked as a starting point at dividing their assets 50/50 depending on the needs of the couple and their children. Instead, if they cannot agree between themselves, couples who are not in a legally recognised marriage have to apply to the civil court for assets to be divided fairly, which can be time-consuming and costly.
It is, of course, a matter of choice on whether women choose to have a civil ceremony or not and the programme looks at the reasons why some women prefer not to have a civil ceremony; and explores attitudes to polygamy.
Director Anna Hall says:
“This is the first time anyone has done this type of in-depth research into British Muslim women’s attitudes and experiences of religious marriages which has produced some really interesting and valuable new insights to help inform debate whether our unreformed marriage laws need updating to reflect the country as it is today, rather than as it was two hundred years ago.”