Fears about rising number of women who are not in fact legally married

Muslim wives at risk if the relationship was to break down at a later date

Concerns have been raised that a majority of women who have a traditional Muslim wedding are not covered by key legal protections.

A new survey has found that 61 per cent of women in the UK who had undergone a nikah, the religious marriage ceremony which is a cornerstone of the faith, had failed to have the separate civil ceremony, which is necessary to give the union legal recognition.

This places the women at risk if the relationship was to break down at a later date, since they will find they are unable to go to the family court to seek a division of their assets.

There are also concerns that it leaves women vulnerable to the use of the so called triple talaq, a form of instant divorce – originating in Asia – in which a husband is able to divorce his wife by repeating an Arabic word three times.

In total, more than 900 women across Britain were interviewed as part of the research, which was carried out to accompany a new Channel 4 documentary, due to be broadcast this evening.

Bana Gora, from the Muslim Women’s Council, said the organisation received calls on a daily basis from women who had concerns about where they stood legally.

“Almost half of these calls are from women in unregistered marriages,” she said.

“Bradford is projected to have the largest Muslim population in the country by 2030, a community which will be vulnerable to the downfalls of unregistered marriages, so it’s incredibly important for men and women in our community to know their rights.”