Proposed Amendments to the Women’s Charter

Recently, the proposed amendments to the Women’s Charter were put up for public consultation by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

The most controversial proposed amendment is that disabled husbands or ex-husbands can claim maintenance from their wives if they are unable to earn a livelihood. The term “husband or ex-husbands” is used because maintenance can be claimed whilst in a marriage, or as part of a divorce. As it stands, only wives can claim maintenance from husbands.

Another amendment proposed is a Mandatory Parenting Programme for divorcing parents. Divorcing parents will have to attend the programme unless they both agree to the divorce and to all ancillary issues, such as child custody.

Other enhancements include protection for women and girls at places of safety, such as allowing for the prevention of publication of such places of safety so that their aggressors cannot continue to harass them.

The last proposed amendment voids a marriage if either party has been convicted of an offence under Section 57C of the Immigration Act. This is likely to be aimed at voiding sham marriages that are entered into for immigration purposes.

The public consultation ends on 8 November 2015.