Kayan’s Legal Department has recently published a position paper on child custody and women’s remarriage, highlighting the legal background of child custody rulings in both Islamic Sharia courts and civil courts. The paper presents the cases of five women represented by Kayan’s legal department staff whose custody rights to children from their first marriage were challenged once they remarried.
The paper highlights the legal and social barriers faced by Palestinian women who remarry following divorce from a previous husband. One of the greatest barriers they face is the effect that remarriage has on their custody rights to their children from previous marriages.
This legal consequence is a result of the Sharia principle that a woman who remarries loses custody rights of her children from former marriages. Often when a woman remarries, her first husband—or even his family—will file suit to revoke her child custody rights.
“The position paper illustrates the discrimination that [Arab] women face as a consequence of merely exercising their right to marry,” explains attorney Rawan Eghbariah of Kayan’s Legal Department. “Moreover, such discrimination is reflected on a number of levels, including biased legal proceedings and societal pressures. This is an important opportunity to raise the issue of women’s right to remarry without losing their custody rights and to seek an end to the application of Sharia law with regard to remarriage and maternal custody.”
The paper also illustrates how the Sharia provision regarding “a woman’s marriage to another man” lays the burden on the mother to prove that maternal custody is in the child’s best interest rather than paternal custody, further compounding the discrimination against her.
We at Kayan view this position paper as a forerunner to future research papers as well as court action with the goal of improving the status of women in society and in the justice system.
The paper was prepared as part of the efforts of Kayan’s Legal Department with regard to personal status matters. These efforts also include consultation services and legal representation, in addition to working to raise public awareness and eliminate discrimination against women.
For more information, contact attorney Rawan Eghbariah of Kayan’s Legal Department at firstname.lastname@example.org
The full position paper in Arabic is available here.
Translation from Arabic: Tova Reznicek
Editing: Claudia Flach