British Muslim wives are still vulnerable to being divorced by their husband simply saying “I divorce you”, three times.
The practice, called the ‘triple talaq’, is controversial in the Muslim world and is banned in 20 Muslim countiries including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. However, it is increasing in Britain, according to a Muslim family lawyer.
Anna Khan, an Islamic Sharia law specialist, said that over 80% of marriages in some British Muslim communities are not being legally registered. She wants to see the 1949 Marriage Act reformed to require Muslim marriages to be registered to give women legal rights. Currently she hears of at least one ‘divorce’ enacted in this fashion each week, and told Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ programme that a Muslim woman can be made homeless overnight, and thus often forced to take her children to stay with her elderly parents for months on end.
Muslim wives can also lose ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’ in earnings and savings, according to Ms Khan, because a professional career means they are often wealthier than their husband.
She has also found that many British Muslim men are actually in favour of registering marriages under British law.