Tripoli, 8 February 2013:
A husband may now marry second wife, without the permission of his first, following a ruling by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court.
The judgement, which overturns part of the Marriage Act (Law 10) of the Qaddafi regime, was made on the grounds that the previous legislation was contrary to Sharia law, which does not require a husband to obtain the consent of any current wife, before taking a new bride. Under the former legislation, if a wife refused to allow another marriage, the husband would have to seek the permission of a court.
In October last year, the head of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil announced that all Qaddafi laws which contravened the Sharia, would be struck down. However the current change to Law 10 does not include the restoration of Sharia divorce. A court judgement remains necessary. The court practice has been to ask the husband and wife to reconsider demands for a divorce. This has meant a minimum of one year and up to two and a half years before divorces have gone through.
One barrier to marrying more than one wife during the 43 years of Qaddafi rule was money. With low average salaries and housing shortages, it was both difficult and expensive to buy further homes or a larger property to accommodate the extra family. The Ministry of Housing is administering a special fund designed to address this shortage. According to some sources, the old regime’s Law 10 has resulted in a large number of unmarried Libyan women. The demographics however, do not appear to bear this out. In 2011, out of an estimated population of 6.5 million, males outnumbered females in every age group except the over-65s. However, one explanation for this may be the rising trend for Libyan males to marry foreign brides, typically from Egypt, Tunisia or Morocco.