A leading Midlands family lawyer is to lobby MPs for a change in the law to make sure that the marriages of many Muslim women are recognised by the UK authorities.
Most Muslim women in the UK take part in a religious nikah ceremony which offers them no legal protection should the marriage break down.
The survey – undertaken for Channel 4 – revealed that 61 per cent of married Muslim women in the UK had not gone through a separate civil ceremony to give the marriage legal status.
Now Assmiea Hussain, a family and marriage law specialist at Leamington-based law firm Wright Hassall, is contacting MPs to push for a change in the legislation so that these women have legal protection.
She said: “This has been a recognised problem for a while but this survey has really focused on the issue and we hope there is a momentum building that means that we can resolve what can be a desperate situation for many women.
“The survey showed that more than 75 per cent of the Muslim women wanted their marriage recognised by UK law. Without that recognition they are very vulnerable.
“If a bride has just undergone a nikah and the marriage breaks down, they can be instantly divorced leaving them with no rights over the marital property or their partner’s income or pension, and that simply can’t be right.
“In other countries, a nikah has to be accompanied by a civil marriage and I believe that UK law needs to catch up fast.
“No woman should find herself in this situation - at the very least, it should be compulsory that the status of the nikah is explained fully to every bride and that they have a right to a civil ceremony. Anglican, Jewish and Quaker marriages have to be registered and there is no reason why the same should not apply to all religious faiths.”
Almost 1,000 women in 14 cities across Britain were surveyed and the resulting report discovered that 10 per cent of Muslim marriages in the UK were polygamous, of which a third of brides had not agreed to it.
Hussain, who is recommended in the Legal 500 for family law, added: “Leaving the brides unprotected in the eyes of the law, especially when many are unware that they have no legal protection, has absolutely no place in a modern society and the law needs changing.
“We are contacting our local MPs to enlist their support and with a growing movement around the country for reform, we will be pushing hard for reform.”