Musawah's new policy brief aims at building harmonious marriages through contracts


According to Musawah, marriage contracts will help circumvent conflicts as they clarify the rights of the partners and protect them emotionally, spiritually, socially, and financially. Photo: Freepik

Musawah, the global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family since 2009, has launched a new policy brief to encourage just and harmonious marriages through marriage contracts.

The policy brief, titled Supporting Just And Harmonious Marriages Through Marriage Contracts, published to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the International Year of the Family, highlights how marriage contracts can help equalise power between partners, ensure equal rights to divorce, and promote a fair division of household chores, as well as domestic and financial responsibilities, says Musawah’s interim executive director Dr Amira Abou-Taleb.

Available in both English and Arabic, the brief offers an exhaustive overview of different marriage contract practices across Muslim communities, and serves as a tool for advocates to support these communities in their call for legal reform towards just marriages.

“Legally, marriage is based on an agreement, which means that its conditions can be mutually agreed upon by the partners and outlined in a contract,” says Amira.

Legally, marriage is based on an agreement, which means that its conditions can be mutually agreed upon by the partners and outlined in a contract, says Musawah’s interim executive director Dr Amira Abou-Taleb. Photo: MusawahLegally, marriage is based on an agreement, which means that its conditions can be mutually agreed upon by the partners and outlined in a contract, says Musawah’s interim executive director Dr Amira Abou-Taleb. Photo: Musawah

Highlighting the benefits of negotiating marriage contracts, she explains that “the process of adding conditions helps create a sense of trust and intimacy between parents and helps establish an ethical foundation for their marriage”.

“This is especially important in cases of conflict, as they can stay rooted in the values of justice, love, mercy, and goodness, which will also clarify the rights of the partners and protect them emotionally, spiritually, socially, and financially,” she adds.

Adding conditions to marriage contracts can ensure equal rights to divorce, promote a fair division of household chores and domestic and financial responsibilities, and give partners a chance to agree on their decision-making process, she says.

The brief puts forward key recommendations to states, local governments, communities and religious leaders, and other relevant stakeholders. These include: training marriage registrars on their responsibility to inform couples and ensure marriage contracts are used to their full advantage; promoting the option of adding conditions to existing marriage contract templates; and educating communities about the benefits of agreeing on conditions for the benefit of the couples, their future children, their families, and societies.

This is also part of the call – spearheaded by a global coalition comprising eight women's rights, human rights and faith-based organisations under The Global Campaign for Equality in Family Law – to reform discriminatory family laws, policies, and practices, across religions and cultures. Such reforms will have a positive impact on other aspects of gender equality, she concludes.

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