PARIS (Reuters) - New polygamous marriages and sharia courts will be banned on France’s Indian Ocean territory of Mayotte when it becomes a department of the French state next year, according to a draft ordinance presented on Wednesday.
Mayotte, an island territory between Mozambique and Madagascar, will also end repudiation, the traditional Muslim divorce, and raise the minimum marriage age for females from 16 to 18, according to a statement by the cabinet.
“The ordinance puts a definitive end to inequality between men and women,” Overseas Territories Minister Marie-Luce Penchard said. “There will no longer be a possibility to enter into polygamous unions as used to be the case.”
Existing polygamous marriages can continue, she added.
The cabinet statement said sharia courts “do not correspond to the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights”.
Sharia judges, known in majority Muslim Mayotte as cadis, will no longer rule on personal law cases such as divorce and inheritance.
“The role of the cadis will be refocused towards functions of social mediation,” the statement said.
About 95 percent of Mayotte’s population are Sunni Muslims who have kept traditional practices since France colonised the islands in 1841.
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