Christa Rautenbach (Potchefstroom, Südafrika): Plurality of Marriage Laws: Exploring the Viability of a Single Marriage Code for South Africa in a Comparative Context


In South Africa ‘unity in diversity’ is a recurring theme in public texts such as the supreme Constitution and the government’s coat of arms. At the same time, the South African Constitution promises to protect cultural rights and entitles individuals to practise and participate in the cultural life of their choice. Also, it specifically allows for the recognition of other types of ‘marriages concluded under any tradition, or a system of religious, personal or family law’. To make good on this promise of accommodation, the government enacted a plurality of laws recognising different types of relationships, and more are in the pipeline. Managing this diversity is, however, challenging, and the tension between equality and cultural rights is often visible in family law. The modest aim of this presentation is to provide a background on the plurality of marriage laws in South Africa, and the reasons why it should explore the viability of a single marriage code. In doing so, I will briefly consider the approach of a few other countries to the same question.

(Prof. Dr. Christa Rautenbach)

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Meeting-ID: 919 7281 7840
Kenncode: 934745

Curriculum Vitae

Prof. Dr. Christa Rautenbach is a legal scholar. After graduating, she first worked as a public prosecutor at the Department of Justice, South Africa. In 1994 she became a lecturer at North-Western University, Potchefstroom, where she obtained her doctorate in 2001. From 2000 to 2004, Christa Rautenbach was Associate Professor, before she was appointed as a Professor at the Law Faculty of North-Western University in 2005. She holds numerous positions in various organizations and commissions. Among others, she is honorary treasurer of the Society of Law Teachers of Southern Africa, alumnus and ambassador scientist of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and former president of the Alexander von Humboldt Association of Southern Africa (North-Eastern Chapter). Furthermore, Prof. Rautenbach is a member of the Advisory Board of the African-German Network of Excellence in Science (AGNES). In 2018, Christa Rautenbach was appointed as a member of the Advisory Committee of the South African Commission on Legislative Reform as part of the project Single Marriage Statute Including Measures against Sham Marriages. She was chosen as the chairperson of the Committee in 2020. Prof. Rautenbach is co-editor and co-author of the two leading publications in South Africa Introduction to Legal Pluralism in South Africa and The Law of Succession in South Africa. She is also editor-in-chief of the Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, as well as a member of the advisory board of several journals, including the Journal of Comparative Law in Africa (South Africa), the Journal of Civil Law Studies (Louisiana) and the Journal of International and Comparative Law (United Kingdom).

Since mid-September 2020, Prof. Dr. Christa Rautenbach has been a Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center “Law as Culture”, Bonn.