Comment on the Single Marriage Statute: Implications for Customary Marriages
Keywords:Single Marriage Statute; customary marriage; South African family law
The South African Law Reform Commission is currently canvassing views on a potential single marriage statute that would reconcile the several enactments currently regulating marriage in South Africa. This comment considers the implications of the proposed Bill for the regulation of customary marriages. It argues that the definition of a marriage / life partnership may be under-inclusive and must be expanded to included polygamous – rather than polygynous – relationships without a religious or cultural basis and life partnerships where the partners are not cohabitants. Furthermore, while the Bill is commended for requiring a husband to obtain the consent of existing wives before he enters into a further customary marriage, the Bill must give meaning to the notion of consent. Finally, the Bill must address existing issues within the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act 120 of 1998 which have invalidated a range of customary marriages too often at the expense of women.
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