ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers has approved a proposal to permit Muslims to marry under the Marriage Registration Ordinance, as provisions in the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) were found to discriminate against women, the cabinet office said.
A cabinet statement said that under section 12 of the constitution no citizen shall be discriminated against on grounds of race, religion, language, cast, sex, political opinion, or place of birth. However, the statement said, the MMDA contains provisions that discriminate against women as pointed out by various women’s organisations belonging to the Muslim community.
Muslim activists and women’s rights organisations have for years been calling for reforms in the MMDA, a piece of legislation dating back to 1951 drafted and passed by men.
“Therefore, under the common law governing the marriage and divorce of the citizens of Sri Lanka, it has become appropriate to provide them with alternative opportunities to govern the marriage and divorce of people of the Muslim community as well,” the cabinet statement said.
“The cabinet has approved a proposal submitted by Minister of Justice Ali Sabry in this regard,” it added.
Minister Sabry has proposed to amend the Civil Procedure Code and the Civil Procedure Code which contain the Marriage Procedure enabling Muslims to get married the Marriage Registration Ordinance.
In recent weeks Muslim women activists highlighted that woman of the community do not sign their own marriage contract but rather a “Bride’s Wali (Male guardian of the bride) signs in her place.
The activists pointed out that this allows a wide-open room for forced marriages to take place.
In February, Minister Sabry told parliament that a proposal have been submitted to increase the marriageable age limit to 18, Women Qazi’s to conducted marriages, allow Muslim women to sign their marriage contract.
A ten-member advisory committee too was appointed to amend the Constitution based on the said proposals. (Colombo/Jul20/2021)