Category: ‘marriage’

Another Dutch court on dissolution of Islamic marriage

4 September 2016 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

The Dutch civil court in the city of Eindhoven, formally the ‘Rechtbank Oost-Brabant’, ruled on 3 August 2016 that a shiite man should cooperate in the dissolution of his Islamic marriage. The court ruled that the man infringes the freedom of his wife to enter into a new relationship (his wife issued a tort action). The man initially refused the dissolution because he first wanted the mahr back. The court balanced his interest against the freedom of his wife, and ruled in her favour.

The case can be found (in Dutch) on

Dutch court on Muslim divorce

19 February 2016 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

On 6 January 2016 the court of Rotterdam ruled it could not force a Muslim husband to cooperate with an Islamic divorce. The court argues that it is up to the woman to freely abide by Islamic rules, and that the issue in question does not relate to the Dutch legal order. The request of the woman (to order the man to perform a talaq or to cooperate with khula) is turned down.

See decision in Dutch: Sharia huwelijk – rb over weigering van de man om mee te werken aan ontbinding van het huwelijk

Of course the decision reached the media. Machteld Zee comments on the case (her recent PhD is shown), but also ‘Femmes for Freedom’ and lawyer Channa Samkalden who argues that ‘non-compliance with religious norms may have civil consequences for women’. The Clara Wichmann Institute will start a legal procedure (a so called ‘proefproces’) to secure that an Islamic divorce in the future can be secured. See, in Dutch:

Fuss over a religious marriage of minors

15 May 2013 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

A small but maybe evolving to a large stir in the polder of Dutch legal culture and its relation to ethnic and religious minorities: The organization ‘Femmes for Freedom’ aired in a national newspaper that the Amsterdam police and the organization Fier Fryslan helped to arrange an Islamic religious marriage between a young Pakistani girl and boy. The case, as far as can be reconstructed from the newspaper article, was that the girl was promised to marry a cousin in Pakistan, but she fell in love with a local guy. This resulted in a clash with her parents, with (threats of?) violence toward the girl who was subsequently (with help of police) brought to a women’s shelter.

Negotiations then began, of which the result was that the parents agreed to a religious marriage with the local guy, so that they had a ‘valid argument’ for the cousin in Pakistan. During a workshop organized by the Ministry of Social Affairs on ‘Honour and Freedom’ the police and Fier Fryslan presented the case as a ‘success story’.

The newspaper cites one person, lawyer Ellie van den Brom who is experienced with ethnic minorities family legal issues, who agrees with the pragmatic solution for the dilemma of ‘either break with your family and get a new identity’ versus ‘negotiate for a pragmatic solution’. Others were ‘flabbergasted’ and ‘fell off their chair when they heard about it’. Their reactions are telling for the polarized discourse in this: ‘a woman in a religious marriage hardly has any rights’, there is a ‘danger of being locked up in the marriage because if a man does not agree with a divorce then you will never get rid of him’, and ‘a religious marriage leaves a woman without any rights’. The girl moreover – the tendency in the article is – probably did not know what she did.

Apart from this, the accusation was that the police broke the law because they aided in the religious marriage. In Dutch law however, only a person with a certain religious status who concludes the marriage, acts illegally (art 449 of the Criminal Law says “de bedienaar van de godsdienst” i.e. the servant of a religion).

And without being too cynical: Let us not forget the possibility that the girl will be killed anyway, married or not.

Vids of the Religare seminar

10 October 2012 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Via this link you can watch the video’s recorded at the Religare Expert seminar on Unregistered Marriages and Alternative Dispute Resolution in European Legal Systems, held on 4 September 2012 in London. You can see the programme and then select the sessions and speakers you would like to hear.

Rumble in a mosque

7 July 2012 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

The Hague has a ‘famous’ Salafi ultra-orthodox mosque, called As Sunnah. The imam of the mosque Fawaz Jneid has been concluding nikah marriages since he came to work there. Recently, he was told to stop it, or otherwise he would be prosecuted. Apparently he did not stop. The prosecutor is now investigating ‘illegal sharia practices’ of the imam (in NL it is illegal to conclude a religious marriage before a civil one).

In the meantime, the mosque also has an internal fight. The board of the mosque has sacked the imam. Both sides now scold the other one with being ‘rotte vis’ (a famous but rather old fashioned Dutch offense) and ‘extremist’. Insiders say it is just a sign of power struggles.

Rutte: “Polygamous marriages do not fit into the Judeo-Christian tradition”

23 March 2012 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

The government wants to combat forced marriages in the Netherlands. The Cabinet today agreed on a bill that is “widely supported”, said Prime Minister Rutte at his weekly press conference.

The bill makes it impossible for minors in the Netherlands to marry (apparently still possible in exceptional cases). Also, marriages between first cousins ??will be forbidden. According to the government in such marriages coercion often plays a role. The marriage can still be concluded when coercion is absent. Furthermore, the possibilities to recognize polygamous marriages conducted abroad will be limited.

The exact wordings of the bill are not yet public. The bill has been sent to the Council of State for the obligatory advice. The bill will become public when it is send to Parliament.

See the press release of the Cabinet (in Dutch).

Seems like we are moving away from the neutral liberal state …

Is the marriage partner a problem?

23 November 2011 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Dutch statistic institution CBS aired new figures on marriage of ethnic minorities in the Netherlands. Headline was that ‘Four out of five of the Turks and Moroccans marry in their own circles’ (Vier op de vijf Turken en Marokkanen trouwen in eigen kring). So I started to count.

According to CBS about 34.500 people from ethnic minorities (allochthons) married in 2010, so this is ± 17.250 marriages. 1/4 of these were of Turks and Moroccans, so ± 4.300. 10% of these marriages is with an autochthon Dutch, which is ± 430 marriages of which one of the partners is native Dutch.

In 2010 overall ± 73.000 marriages between men and women were concluded. 430 of these were between native Dutch and someone with a Dutch/Turkish or Dutch/Moroccan background. This is a little over 0,5%, right? Suppose there is another 4% of ‘mixed marriages’. Just suppose …

Then we would need to conclude that over 95% of the native Dutch, in fact a higher percentage than the Turks and Moroccans, marry in ‘their own circles’? Right?

So actually, the Turks and Moroccans in the Netherlands do way better in terms of integration (if mixed marriages is a sign of integration ..) compared to the native Dutch.

Gay teacher on orthodox religious school may not be fired

8 November 2011 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

In the ever lasting debate on the freedom of religious schools (in the Netherlands funded by the state on an equal footing with public school) to select the types of teachers and students they think ‘agree with and show a willingness to back the principles of the school’, there seem to be a new legal decision. A male teacher at an orthodox protestant school, married with a woman, discovered he was gay. During marriage he went to live with his friend and in the mean time asked for divorce. His wife agreed and supported him. The teacher informed the school and – during a special session – also the kids of his class and their parents. The school asked the local court permit to fire the teacher.

The court considers that special schools are allowed to require certain characteristics of their personnel when that is deemed necessary to fulfill the principles on which the school is based. These requirements may however not include the sole fact of being gay.

This so called sole fact construction in the Dutch Equal Treatment Act has already led to much discussion in the past. What is it? Is it the sole fact of being gay, but hiding it for everybody and even denying it in public? This would make the law meaningless. According to discussion in Parliament, the sole fact includes behaviour besides the sole fact of being gay, that would not diminish the functioning of a teacher at that school. Teachers may be gay and have a relationsship and may live together with their partner. They may not say or show in school and in public life that he does not agree with the principles of the school.

The court found that this teacher could not be fired. The sole fact in this case included being gay, living together with his friend during marriage, and telling that to the school, his kids, and their parents. The teacher had done all this, according to the court, with the utmost respect and deference to the principles of the school.

‘Weigerambtenaren’ in debate again

26 October 2011 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Yesterday evening on prime time news TV: there seems to be a majority in Dutch parliament to ban the ‘Weigerambtenaar’ – the municipal official who for religious reasons (orthodox christianity usually) refuses to marry gay couples. The PVV of Geert Wilders was never outspoken on the issue, but yesterday announced that the principle of equality demands that every municipal official should be willing to marry anybody. The PVV together with left wing parties means a majority …

Formerly the argument was that gay couples could always get married anyway because every municipality was sure to have a ‘liberal’ official. Dutch pragmatic and tolerant legal culture should allow for a diversity of religion and conviction of people working in state services, the argument was. Should I say that the argument has now slid toward the French version of secularism? ‘State officials do not have to work as marriage officials, but when they do the principle of equality demands they should never refuse. The state should be neutral in this’, the argument now runs.

Gay marriage in Hinduism

17 October 2008 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

spaper Trouw today has an item on a gay couple planning to marry on the island of Bali, Indonesia, next week. Supposedly, this is a first time event for Indonesia.
India however accepts the possibility of gay marriage in Hinduism for over 30 years – even if homosexuality is a crime (thanks to the British).
The Dutch Hindu community (mostly people from Surinam) has accepted gay marriage for over ten years. Not everybody knows, some hindus abhor it, some find it acceptable ‘because discrimination in Hinduism is not allowed’.
A religious marriage is not legally valid in Dutch state law. In fact, the civil law code states that religious ceremonies are not allowed before a civil marriage is concluded. The person conducting the religious marriage ceremony is criminally liable (it’s a misdemeanor, article 449 Criminal code). I suspect however, in Dutch pragmatic culture we turn and look away … (no criminal cases found, yet).
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