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Woman gets nod to marry lover without her parents consent

A woman who sued her parents because they disapproved of her fiancé has been allowed by a court to marry her lover.

Hamza Saleh Chirwa and Hawa Abbas Gedi Gullet intend to marry in accordance with Islamic law.

However, Abbas Gullet and Zara Tun Hussein Ahmed, Hawa's parents, have denied the two lovebirds consent to get married.

They objected to the relationship, claiming the man does not have a stable income to take care of their daughter.

Court records state that Hawa's parents submitted that they were not objecting to her getting married, but as parents they had an obligation to guide their daughter on personal welfare and religion.

"It's only that the first applicant doesn't have a stable job or source of income to sustain himself and the second applicant and that they are fearful that their daughter will be subjected to hardship and anguish," states the court records.

Milimani Court Senior Resident Kadhi Ishaq Hussein framed two issues for determination: Whether Gullet has a role to play in his daughter's marriage, and whether financial limitation is sufficient ground to bar Hawa from getting married to the love of her life.  

The court declared it was unfair for the girl's parents to reject the man on the ground that he lacked financial muscle.

“There can be no shadow of doubt that a freedom to marry has long been recognised as one of the imperative personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men and slaves (which is no longer in practice). Under our laws, the freedom to marry or not to marry a person of social standing resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by any other persons, including the State,” said Hussein in his ruling dated November 26, this year.

Hamza and Hawa had filed the case in June in which they sought the court's intervention to appoint a registrar or an assistant registrar of Islamic marriages to represent Hawa as her guardian and subsequently conduct the intended marriage.

The court heard that Hawa's parents beat her after she stood her ground. The two also claimed the bride’s parents were unhappy with Chirwa's ethnic background.

In their response, Hawa's parents denied the claim, but asserted that they had an obligation to counsel their daughter and guide her on how to deal with her life and religion.

According to the parents, their main concern about her choice of husband was that he had no means of taking care of her. 

No proof

The court heard that under Islamic law, a father has the right to protect the interests of his daughter when choosing a man to wed; and this includes denying or accepting men she thinks are suitable to propose to her.

On the role of parents in their daughters marriages, the Kadhi ruled that parental authority over their girls end when they turn 18.

“Human beings do not have a right to marry their animals, their house, their television etc. At most, people have a right to marry people of opposite gender. We must conclude that the scope of right to marry is subject to the Constitution,” he said.

The Kadhi, however, dismissed the claim by the lovebirds that their marriage was stopped based on ethnicity, saying there was no proof.

He ordered that they should go to a Muslim marriage officer of their choice and solemnise their marriage.