Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Not the function of marriage
Here's a common sense decision today by the Court of Appeal. In KC & Anor v City of Westminster Social & Community Services Dept. & Anor the court decided that an arranged marriage conducted over the telephone between an autistic British man who functions at or below the level of a three year old and a woman in Bangladesh would not be recognised under English law, despite the fact that it was valid under sharia and the law of Bangladesh. To Lord Justice Wall the case was about recognition of the marriage, rather than its validity. He stated that: "To the mind of the English lawyer ... such a marriage is perceived as exploitative and indeed abusive. Under English law, a person in the position of [the man] is precluded from marriage for the simple reason that he lacks the capacity to marry." Apparently, to the Bangladeshi mind such a marriage "is perceived as a means of protecting him, and of ensuring that he is properly cared for within the family when his parents are no longer in a position to do so." However, it is surely not the function of marriage to protect the vulnerable.