You are here

Muslim lawyer defends women’s rights

Muslim lawyer defends women’s rights

Country: 
Algeria
News Date: 
03/09/2011
Lancastrian
Summary: 

Based on Islamic law and tribal traditions, Algerian law discriminates against women in terms of marriage, children’s custody and education, divorce and more.

  1. In marital negotiations, the groom is free to act on his own behalf, whilst the bride must rely on a guardian (father, relative or judge) to ensure that the terms of the marriage contract are just and fair. In practice, this means that women have no say in the decision since the absence of a guardian invalidates the marriage.
  2. Under Algeria’s Family Code, polygamy is an unfettered right for men. Husbands are only required to inform their wife or wives about their decision. Even if a wife disagrees, she can resign herself to it or file for divorce and leave the marital home.
  3. Husbands can file for divorce for any reason or no reason. Wives can only file for divorce under certain circumstances (non-payment of alimony, husband’s absence for a year and a day without justification, disability preventing the consummation of the marriage as intended, husband’s refusal to share the marital bed for four months or more, husband’s conviction for shameful crimes and serious moral errors).
  4. Children’s custody is also a cause for discrimination. Only fathers can make legal decisions on their children’s behalf. Mothers can do it only if a judge authorises it, and this only as it applies to children’s housing, food and medical treatment.
  5. A woman with custodial rights does not automatically have right to the marital home. This can happen only if the husband owns two homes and the wife does not have parents who can take her in. In light of Algeria’s housing crisis, this means that mothers and their children can find themselves homeless or forced to move to substandard housing.
  6. In mixed marriages, mothers have custody of their children only if they live in Algeria. For example, a French woman married to an Algerian but living in France cannot have custody of her children without their father’s consent (which is very rare).
  7. Fathers (not parents as required by international conventions) choose their children’s education. Non-Muslim women married to Algerian Muslim men do not have a say in their children’s education.