A well-informed community is an empowered one, so take a look at some of the latest news below and help spread the word about the developments at Register Our Marriage.
5 March 2021
Religious divorce refusal can now be recognised as a criminal offence
A husband who refuses a 'get' can now be viewed as exerting controlling and coercive behaviour, listed as a criminal offence under the Serious Crime Act.
Husbands who refuse their wives a religious divorce are more likely to be prosecuted following “momentous” changes to the government’s Domestic Abuse Bill.
A man who refuses a get will now be clearly recognised as exerting controlling and coercive behaviour, which is listed as a criminal offence under the Serious Crime Act of 2015.
If found guilty, an offender could face up to five years in jail.
While get refusal could previously have been considered a criminal offence under the 2015 Act, experts say the law was ambiguous and had yet to be fully tested in court. New amendments to the Act, combined with the Domestic Abuse Bill, have now eradicated any doubt.
Experts say that by adding to and clarifying existing legislation it will now be easier to take action against perpetrators. Joanne Greenaway, former get case director at the London Beth Din, said she hopes that “the new Domestic Abuse Bill and working together with the Batei Din who look after the Get cases, we see additional protections for these victims of abuse”.
Baroness Altmann, who is part of a cross-party group of Jewish peers that has been working to implement this in law, told Jewish News that this was a “momentous development in our quest to protect British people whose partners refuse to give them the get. We have long wanted to see this issue addressed for the women affected and try and free them so they can get on with their lives”. She added: “Finally, a Jewish wife can get support to stand up and say this is not OK.”
Previously, there were question marks over whether an offence could be coercive if a couple was not cohabiting in an “intimate relationship”.
In some cases of get refusal, victims are no longer living with their partner and may have divorced under secular law. The ambiguities have meant that a husband can argue that as he is longer living with with his wife, his behaviour cannot be deemed coercive.
Greenaway said: “Thanks to the Serious Crime Act 2015, two prosecutions have already been brought which have led to the freeing of women in very difficult circumstances of get refusal. This was despite uncertainty
as to whether the provisions related to couples post-separation.”
This tightening of the definition will bring clarity to enable more people to use this avenue with confidence and more quickly move on with their lives.”
This week a review into controlling or coercive behaviour conducted as part of the Domestic Abuse Bill, which enters its report stage next week, was published. It clarified that someone can be a victim of coercive behaviour even if the couple no longer live together.
CEO of Jewish Women’s Aid Naomi Dickson said she is “so pleased” this kind of abuse is being acknowledged. “Domestic abuse does not end when a woman manages to leave the home she shares with her perpetrator. Within the Jewish community, post-separation abuse can include get refusal, when a couple are still married in the eyes of Jewish law,” she said.
Rabbanit Ramie Smith, who in 2020 co-founded GETTOUT UK, a charity offering support and legal advice to agunot, says the withholding of a get is often used as a way for a husband to punish a wife or as a means of extortion when things don’t go their way in court.
“We have seen men asking women to accept less money or less property in order to get the get. To say, ‘I won’t give you your freedom unless you take less money than the court has ordered you’ is a clear manipulation and a clear act of control.”
Now, campaigners like Baroness Altmann say the report has shown “beyond any doubt that unreasonable get refusal is a crime” and so these tactics will no longer be permissible.
But rather than seeing anyone go to jail, Altmann wants the report to act as a deterrent to “any husband who thinks he may find a loophole in British law to withhold a get”.
She is hopeful that these new definitions will “pave the way for a significant mindset change on the part of a Jewish husband. Just as no one would say it OK for a husband to tie his wife up and keep her hostage for days on end, now, too they will see that it is simply not decent, not right, and in fact criminal to refuse a get,” she says.
According to Jewish law, a woman may only be considered divorced halachically once she receives a get from her husband. Women whose husbands refuse a get are considered agunot (chained) and are unable to remarry.
However, for a get to be deemed kosher, it must be granted by the husband of his free will. This means it is against Jewish law for either a secular court or the Beth Din to force a husband to grant his wife a get.
Rifka Meyer, who was an agunah before receiving her get and who co-founded GETTOUT UK, says: “Just knowing that lawyers and civil courts can summon [husbands], and they can’t run or get away with it will make a huge difference to the women we are working with.”
Aina Khan, OBE (Director of Register Our Marriage Campaign and Family Lawyer): “I was delighted to see this news! I have been citing this legislation for so many of our clients in the past year. Withholding a divorce is exerting controlling and coercive behaviour - whoever you are”.
5 March 2021
26 February 2021
Research on weddings - Call for participants
Did you get married in England and Wales after 1 January 2015?
Did you have an alternative ceremony such as a nikah, that was not required or recognised by law? If so, we would love to speak to you!
If so, we would like to invite you to participate in our research looking at modern day marriages in England and Wales. Anyone who entered a ceremony of marriage since 1 January 2015 can participate.
Changes to the law have been suggested for the process of getting married, including allowing people to legally marry in ways that are meaningful to them.
We would love to hear your views.
Taking part simply involves an interview by zoom or telephone held at a time convenient to you.
To participate, contact Dr Rajnaara Akhtar: 07974705489 / Rajnaara.firstname.lastname@example.org
15 December 2020
ROM conversation on religious marriages
Due to high interest, ROM organized the final round table on the Law Commission's Consultation on Weddings on Tuesday 15 Dec from 5 pm to 7 pm.
Law Commission’s lawyers and professors Rebecca Probert, Elizabeth Welch and Nicholas Hopkins, attended the forum to hear views and answer questions.
14 September 2020
Over 30+ attend ROM's Round Table with Law Commission
ROM hosted an insightful round table with over 30 attendees, and gives special thanks to Prof Rebecca Probert and Prof Nicholas Hopkins of the Law Commission for setting out their weddings consultation paper and hearing a range of views.
ROM encourages all members and supporters to respond to the consultation before 3 December 2020 via the Law Commission’s website.
7 September 2020
Aina Khan OBE, ROM Founder and Director, is delighted to invite you to join the ROM Round Table on the Law Commission’s Consultation on Weddings.
Unregistered religious and other belief marriages affect more than one community, and women and children are most vulnerable when the relationship ends.
The Law Commission has launched consultation on proposals to modernise wedding laws, giving couples greater freedom on the location and form of wedding ceremonies that is meaningful to them, including religious ceremonies that the law can recognise.
ROM will be responding to the consultation and is hosting this online round table to better inform the public and policy makers, while consulting a variety of views and opinions.
Read more on the Law Commission's website.
Please RSVP here to avoid disappointment.
3 September 2020
Law Commission Launches Weddings Consultation
The Law Commission is consulting on proposals to modernise wedding laws, giving couples greater freedom on the location and form of wedding ceremonies that is meaningful to them, including religious ceremonies that the law can recognise.
Read more at the Law Commission's website here.
5 August 2020
ROM launches free legal surgeries
ROM's network of family lawyers and social workers will be hosting FREE legal surgeries on Wednesdays at 4.30-6pm, via Zoom on the following dates:
August: 5th & 19th
September: 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd & 30th
October: 7th, 14th, 21st & 28th
November: 4th, 11th, 18th & 25th
December: 2nd, 9th & 16th.
To book an appointment, please email email@example.com
1 July 2020
House of Lords Hansard (transcript) - Marriage and Religious Weddings
The Government's Lords spokesperson was asked, further to the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper, published on 14 May 2018, what progress they have made on their commitment to “explore the legal and practical challenges of limited reform relating to the law on marriage and religious weddings”.
Read more here.
30 June 2020
ROM Campaign praised in the House of Lords
Thank you Baroness Uddin for praising our work in the House of Lords, with thanks to Baroness Warsi, Baroness Sheehan & others for their important interventions.
Legal recognition of all religious marriages will equally protect women & children of all communities.
We look forward to meeting with Lord Keen of Elie QC in due course.
Watch the video here.
29 June 2020
Covid Guidance for small marriages
MHCLG has produced Covid Guidance for small marriages that comes into effect on 4 July.
We’ve heard of an increase in religious marriages by video-call during the pandemic. These ceremonies are not recognised by UK law and leave couples without legal rights.
If you have had a marriage ceremony by video-call, contact your local Register Office via gov.uk/register-offices to find out what you must do to safely hold a legally recognised civil marriage ceremony from 4 July.
If you have had a religious ceremony recently, or one via video call, get in touch with us for practical information and advice.
Read more here.
22 March 2020
Married at 100: love in the time of COVID-19
Great example of marriage and commitment by this 100 year old gentle man. This is such an uplifting story. An registered marriage providing security in these uncertain times.
Let’s hope the Registry Office announce Skype weddings soon! (With the appropriate anti-fraud rules of course)
Yavar Abbas and Noor Zaheer. — Photo courtesy Pervaiz Alam Facebook page.
27 February 2020
Court of Appeal decision drives home the need for urgent law reform
Aina Khan OBE, ROM founder, said: This Court of Appeal decision drives home the need for urgent law reform. This is the driver behind my campaign ‘Register Our Marriage’ which I set up in 2014. Our vision is “To see a world where all religious marriages are legally registered”.
28 December 2019
The Commons Library briefing paper considers Islamic marriage and divorce in England and Wales and calls which have been made for the law to be changed to require civil registration of all marriages.
20 December 2019
Christmas and New Year Greetings from London to all our friends around the world, from Aina Khan OBE and ROM team.
6 December 2019
ROM team reviewing our exciting new website, branding and forthcoming videos. A lot of hard work over the last year has now come to fruition! Followed by Senior Leadership Team meeting at the National Liberal Club.
27 November 2019
Bradford Safeguarding Conference
The conference was attended by over 350 delegates and has been widely perceived to be the ‘biggest of its kind conference in the UK’ aimed at diverse faith communities, supplementary schools and out-of-school settings.
ROM provided a 1 hour training workshop which was attended by 17 delegates, including men and women. Faith leaders and professionals.
15 November 2019
ROM Leicester Faith Leaders' Training and Launch gathered a great number of faith and community leaders, both men and women, from different communities pledging to train as registrars among other things. Thank you for joining us on our journey to where all religious marriages are legally registered.
14 November 2019
Members of ROM Leicester Steering Group on BBC Radio Leicester discussing the fact that spouses are not protected by English law in unregistered religious marriages.
11 November 2019
ROM’s Faith Leaders’ Training in Birmingham, delivered by Aina Khan OBE, Adeel Hussain and Imam Osman Sheikh, allowed faith leaders to understand the benefits of registering religious marriages.
7 November 2019
ROM Bradford Faith Leader & Registrar's Training and Launch was endorsed by Qari Asim MBE, Naz Shah and many other local community leaders who emphasized the benefits, truth and importance of Register Our Marriage Campaign.
4 November 2019
We regret to announce that we have to postpone the 10th December launch!
The Election has been called on 12 December. We will not have the attendance of the many MPs, Peers and officials from Government departments who wanted to attend. We have been asked to hold the Parliamentary event early next year. Please follow our page on Eventbrite and our website for announcements of future events. We are proud that our regional launches will go ahead, to which we ask you to invite men, women and young people who wish to learn how to be marriage registrars, as well as to know the consequences of not registering marriages:
- Bradford - 7 November. Launches by Naz Shah (prospective parliamentary candidate)
- Birmingham - 11 November
- Leicester - 15 November
We thank you for your overwhelming support for our Events and look forward to meeting you there.
2 November 2019
Aina Khan OBE gave a speech about Register Our Marriage law reform campaign at The Urban Muslim Woman Show organized by Saverah to an audience of over 300 women. The ROM team also run a stall which received constant visitors. There was an overwhelmingly positive response from the attendees, who had come from all over the UK.
“The Urban Muslim Woman Show, now in its 8th year has been established as a well-known landmark event bringing together a community of strong, independent, professional women from all walks of life across the UK. It is a celebration of the many achievements and successes of the Muslim women and aims to inspire future generations with messages of empowerment and support.
The show provides an ideal platform to highlight the potential skills and strengths of women, who today are playing a vital role in transforming our communities, businesses, politics and professional environment.”
1 November 2019
Aina Khan OBE received an Award by the World Peace and Prosperity Foundation run by Prince Mohsin Ali Khan.
Aina Khan OBE received an Award from World Peace and Prosperity. Run by Prince Mohsin Ali Khan formerly of Hyderabad Deccan, India and now resident on London. In recognition of Register Our Marriage campaign, founded and run by Aina Khan OBE.
The World Peace and Prosperity Foundation’s Award Ceremony for 2019 was held on Wednesday 30th October 2019 in The House of Lords with a Reception and Dinner in the Cholmondeley Rooms.
This is the occasion when the Annual Awards for Exceptional Service to Humanity, Nationally and Internationally are presented, in the presence of many outstanding people who each reflect the Foundation’s purpose.
26 October 2019
Muslim Lifestyle Expo
The ROM team and Aina Khan had hundreds of visitors to our stand. ROM team discussed the lack of legal protection for unregistered religious marriages and conducted a survey at the Muslim Lifestyle Expo.
3 October 2019
Bishop of London’s Forum
Aina Khan OBE and ROM team members attending Bishop of London’s Forum at Old Deanery, St Paul’s Cathedral, London.
17 September 2019
Siddique Patel for The Law Society
Siddique Patel, ROM deputy director, explains for The Law Society that Faith marriages don't give legal protection and why it is essential to advocate for equality for all religious marriages in England and Wales.
7 September 2019
Saleha Islam, ROM National Project Manager, was a Judge at the Beacon Mosque Awards on 7 September 2019 in London.
The evening was a great success. Saleha spoke to a number of people about ROM, including the founder of the awards, Shaukat Warraich, who was extremely supportive.
Attendees were delighted that Saleha was working with ROM and there was much interest in our campaign. London mosques were particularly keen for ROM to deliver our message there, after hearing of our pioneering work in Bradford and the Midlands.
Saleha was pleased to sit with his Excellency Nafees Zakaria, High Commissioner of Pakistan. Saleha said ‘What a lovely and humble man. I have met lots of ambassadors before, but he was top notch’.
9 June 2019
ROM at the British Islam Conference
Aina Khan OBE gave a talk at the British Islam Conference, on why registering your marriage is crucial, the importance of building awareness of the lack of legal rights in unregistered marriages and the ensuing tragedies.
I have supported this campaign for the past few years and it has made a real difference on the ground. It is led by credible people who are known to the community and I wish it every success.
I am delighted to be supporting ROM because the Catholic church also has to volunteer to register their marriages and we want all faiths to be covered under marriage law equally.
ROM's works are absolutely crucial to safeguarding women of all faith backgrounds from the pain and abuse a non-registered marriage can lead to. We are honoured to be supporting their fantastic efforts to ensure women feel safe, secure and protected by all agencies, when and if they choose to marry.
I am privileged to be supporting such an important campaign that seeks to raise awareness of the importance of registering a marriage, based on the principles of justice, respect and equality; principles that are central to my faith and personal values.
It would be great to have a similar movement in the US as unfortunately, we see a fair amount of Islamic marriages without legalization with the intent to deprive a woman of her rights by law.
I am fully in support of this important initiative to require religious marriages to be registered under the law and offer the same safeguards and protection to all faith communities alike.
Thank you for all the hard work you have done for bringing the ROM and other topics to life and the need to carry on and network with more and more as we go along.