Judicial khuluu (<Ar. khulʿ) in Zanzibar differs from judicial khulʿ in Arab countries that have recently introduced it through legislative reform. In Zanzibar’s Islamic courts, khuluu is used primarily as a judicial mechanism for ending a marriage when a judge determines a wife to be responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. Zanzibari women rarely file for khuluu because it is expensive and is associated with a woman’s failure in her marriage. Herein, I explain why judges in Zanzibar regard khuluu as a punitive measure that can be used to end a marriage when a woman is determined to be responsible for the marital discord, or when there are no grounds for judicial dissolution through fasikhi (<Ar. faskh, annulment).I also show that judges view khuluu as a right that a woman can exercise to extricate herself from marriage, a right that judges sometimes encourage in court.
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