South Africa: Waheeda Amien Appointed to Advisory Committee On Matrimonial Property Law

Associate Professor Waheeda Amien, an academic in the University of Cape Town's (UCT) Faculty of Law, has been selected to serve as a member of the South African Law Reform Commission's (SALRC) Advisory Committee on the Review of Aspects of Matrimonial Property Law.

The committee is in the process of investigating how to achieve legislative fairness and justice in regard to interpersonal relationships between spouses. Associate Professor Amien's role involves reviewing the current law on matrimonial property and recommending necessary changes to ensure that it meets societal needs.

Amien is an expert in family law and human rights, particularly religious and customary family laws, and her research places special focus on Muslim family law. She teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate students in UCT's Department of Public Law. As a committee member, she will provide assistance, advice and constructive criticism on how to develop and formulate proposals for matrimonial property law in South Africa.

"I am looking forward to making a positive impact on the lives of many who are marginalised by the current laws."

"I am very excited about my appointment. I am looking forward to making a positive impact on the lives of many who are marginalised by the current laws on matrimonial property," said Amien.

Significant appointment

At the advent of democracy, and in line with the Constitution, Amien said, law experts reviewed and reformed many laws that afforded black South Africans rights they did not have before. However, prior to establishing the SALRC Advisory Committee on the Review of Aspects of Matrimonial Property Law, the necessary matrimonial property law reforms were given little consideration.

"This is an incredibly important area of law, since it impacts directly on the socio‑economic conditions of spouses," said Amien.

"When a marriage terminates through divorce or death, women in religious marriages, especially, are left financially bereft. Now we have an opportunity to assist the SALRC to consider how best to protect and advance women and others' rights."

Applying research

In the short and medium term, the position will allow Amien to apply her research findings in a practical context. In the long term, she hopes that her contribution will assist with improving the socio‑economic circumstances of marginalised spouses, such as women in religious marriages.

"This appointment is public recognition of my expertise in the area of family law and human rights. It's also an opportunity to apply my work to effect positive law reform in a significant aspect of marriage laws," Amien said.

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