Unregistered Marriages Offer Little Protection

Many marriages in southern Kyrgyzstan are not legally registered, leaving spouses without recourse to the law if things go wrong.

Unregistered Marriages Offer Little Protection

Many marriages in southern Kyrgyzstan are not legally registered, leaving spouses without recourse to the law if things go wrong.

Tuesday, 27 October, 2009
Muslims in the south are generally more observant than in the north, and many consider the religious ceremony alone an adequate way of forming a marriage contract.



Ulukbu Amirova reports that the national Red Crescent Society says about one in four marriages in the south have not been registered.



Matluba has been married and divorced twice, and in each case was unable to claim a share of the household property because she had only had a Muslim wedding.



Now she is left to bring up her six-year old daughter in a small room.



The Kazi or head of the Muslim community for Osh region, Suyun-Ajy Kalykov, admits that mullahs do not ask to see proof of civil marriage before performing wedding rites.



“We don’t demand a marriage document,” he said. “We believe Allah will punish those who tell untruths.”



Some mosques give out wedding certificates, but they do not carry any legal force.



Dilfuza Murasheva of the Red Crescent worries that these certificates can mislead young women into thinking they have legal rights.



Some human rights activists believe mullahs should be banned from conducting weddings unless the couple can produce proof of marriage from the civil registry office. But lawyers suggest that currently, imposing such a requirement would not be in line with the law, and it is up to the government to introduce new rules.

Kyrgyzstan
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