COLOMBO: Breaking barriers of the archaic 1951 law, the Sri Lanka Cabinet has permitted Muslim women to get married under ordinary law - the Marriage Registration Ordinance in Sri Lanka. Muslim female activists and scholars have fought for decades against the Muslim Marriages and Divorce Act under which Muslim girls were allowed to enter marriage vows. They charged that the law leads to child brides and other violations of their rights.
The activists have claimed the women in their community were not even allowed to sign their own marriage contracts under Muslim Marriages and Divorce Act. In place of the bride, the marriage contract is signed by "Bride's Wali" or a male guardian of the bride. The activists also have stated that Muslim Marriages and Divorce Act gave room for forced marriages to take place.
"As per the 12th Section of the Constitution, no citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinions, or place of birth. However, the Divorce Act has included provisions that discriminate against women. Various women's organizations belonging to the Muslim community and Muslim law scholars have pointed out the need to repeal such provisions from the law, the Government pointed out," the Cabinet announced on Tuesday.