– WiLDAF Calls On Gov?t Fastrack CAP 129 Implementation
Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) a Pan-African non-governmental and not-for profit women?s rights network, has called on the government to ensure the registration of Muslim marriages under the CAP 129 to give Muslim women the necessary protection under the marriage laws of Ghana, whilst calling on Muslim women to rise up and demand from government to consider implementing the CAP 129 legislation.
They are also calling on government to step up efforts to provide the necessary tools that will enhance the facilitation of the implementation of the CAP 129.
The legislation (CAP 129) regulates Islamic marriages and divorces in Ghana, and it makes it mandatory for every Moslem marriage and divorce to be registered. But development as far as Islamic marriages is concern is far from what the Legislation says.
The much-touted Intestate Succession Law, PNDC Law 111 of 1985, has come under sharp criticism because it has drastically reduced the practical utility of the Mohammedans marriage Ordinance (CAP 129).
During a Seminar organized by WiLDAF with FOMWAG and Funded by STAR Ghana for Muslim women in Accra Mrs. Bernice Sam National Programme Coordinator observed that Ghana practiced three main types of marriage systems, namely the customary, ordinance and the Mohammedans ordinance (CAP 129), but only two of the marriages, the customs and ordinance, had gained major recognition legally, even though the three are supposed to be legally protected.
Madam Bernice Sam stressed the need for equal opportunity for all, including the registration of marriages, without any form of discrimination.
Madam Sam explained that the project embarked upon by her outfit was to help provide the basic education among the Muslim community in the country on the importance of registering their marriages, which was covered under the laws of the nation, and would enable the beneficiaries of the programme to educate others to embrace it.
In an interview with Patricia Essel, Programme Manager for WiLDAF Ghana, she indicated that so far majority of Islamic marriage or divorce is not regarded as such because they were either not registered or registered under CAP 122 or CAP 127.
?If this happens those marriages will not be recognized under the laws,? she said.
The potency of the CAP 129 legislation seems to be greatly affected with the passage of Law 111, which provides that a surviving spouse be adequately compensated for his services to the deceased spouse.
According to her, the millions of marriages and divorces that have been celebrated or performed in Ghana in accordance with Islamic procedure and rites are not valid, because they are not registered under CAP 129, since the legislation which dealt with the devolution of property of a Moslem who died intestate has been repealed by Law 111.
She also averred that CAP 129 is hardly enforced because many Moslems do probably not know its registration provisions. She therefore called on Moslems to agitate for the rectification of the Law 111 because it is discriminatory.
Patricia Essel also explained that the WiLDAF Ghana is embarking on this exercise to sensitize women to rise up and demand from government what needed to be done as far as their marriage registration and protection is concern.
She also averred that although government consolidated all marriage laws in the country, only two are pushed for implementation, which are?customary-CAP112 and the marriage ordinance-CAP 127 under?Act 1884-1985.
Government of Ghana she said, as the responsibility of providing the necessary tool, trained human resource and public education to facilitate implementation of laws.
??.With respect to marriage, there are licensed marriage officers, marriage registers and data is collected on customary marriage under the Customary Marriage and Divorce Registration Law (PNDC Law 112), and under the Marriage Ordinance (Cap 127). But when it comes to Islamic marriages, the Mohammedans Ordinance (Cap 129) is not implemented because there is no register, no Imams are licensed, and so no data is collected on Islamic marriages and divorces,? they lamented.
She pointed out that WiLDAF with funding from SEND Ghana is embarking on a nine month project to create awareness about the need for Islamic marriages in the country to be legally registered, just like the ordinance and customary marriages.
The Seminar with FOMWAG was to create awareness on the requirements of Mohammedans Ordinance among Muslims and also to discuss key recommendations to ensure smooth and effective implementation of CAP 129.