Relationship Rights

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South Africa’s legal framework aims to promote women’s rights to equality and dignity, and to provide legal protection for women in formal partnerships (marriages, civil unions, and customary marriages). Like most of the world, people living in South Africa have changed how they express their romantic interests and how they the forge relationships. Constitutional protection for diverse forms of relationships, such as domestic partnerships, is thus critical.

At present, there is a vacuum in terms of the protection of women in unregistered religious marriages, and in domestic partnerships. In many instances, this legal vacuum negatively affects women’s constitutional rights to equality and dignity. As a result, they struggle to access equal resources during, or at the dissolution of, marriages / partnerships (whether by death or divorce).

It bears mention that presently in South Afric there is no legislation that regulates the recognition of Muslim marriages. Neither is there a legislative regulatory framework that advances and protects women’s right to property during and after the dissolution of Muslim marriage. Moreover, there is also no legal or policy framework to advance and protect Muslim women’s right to inheritance upon the death of their husbands.

Our programme on women’s rights to housing, land and property in relationships focuses on the advancement and recognition of women’s independent rights in, and on the dissolution of, a relationship, so as to ensure fair and equitable access to resources and rights within the relationship.


To ensure the legal recognition of all relationships, irrespective of religion, custom, or sexual orientation. 


To challenge discriminatory practices and laws that impact on women’s access to resources in a relationship.


To engage with national, regional, and international structures to promote the interests of women’s rights in a relationship, and to ensure compliance with human rights standards.


Collaborate and partner with strategic and relevant organisations to promote the interest’s women’s right in a relationships.