Drowned out by the furore over whether George Galloway has indeed become a Muslim as alleged by Jemima Khan, it has been little noticed that soon after his fourth marriage last month his third wife could faintly be heard complaining that in the eyes of Islam he is in fact still married to her. This confusion stems from the brutal truth that few British Muslim marriages have been registered under British law, which means that when the relationship breaks down the female has little if any spousal rights. This is an outrage, condemning thousands of women to a life stuck in limbo and it is time to take action to end this discrimination.
"An increasing timebomb" is how Aina Khan, family law specialist, describes the growth of Muslim marriages that have not been legally registered. It is estimated that 70-75% of Muslim marriages in the UK have not been registered under the Marriage Act. Muslim women and their children have been left open to abuse when they are only registered as having the rights of co-habitants. If their marriage breaks down or her husband dies, women have little recourse as it becomes almost impossible to seek spousal support and even child support. Many are denied equal sharing and the inheritance of wealth and assets accrued in marriage.