A book entitled Women And Sharia Law: The Impact Of Legal Pluralism In The UK written by Muslim academic Elham Malea, inset above, claims Sharia courts in the UK condone rape, wife-beating and the forced marriage of young girls.
According to this report, it also says some Islamic clerics support chopping off the hands of criminals while others are in favour of a father having the power to annul his daughter’s marriage if he does not approve of her partner.
The book was written following a four-year investigation into around 80 Islamic councils across London and the Midlands, in which disputes within Muslim communities are settled.
Manea, a Zurich University-based professor and expert on human rights, described the power held in these courts as “totalitarian” and said they were more extreme than in some parts of Pakistan.
She gave an example of a British woman who was forced to marry her cousin in Pakistan, where she was raped on her wedding night.
The woman returned to the UK and pleaded with a Sharia court for an annulment, which was dismissed outright.
Manea said in her book:
They did not care that she was forced to marry. They did not care that she is being raped in marriage, they do not see that as rape in marriage.
She also quoted an imam who supported girls getting married at extremely young ages, explaining there was “no particular age” limit but that:
Normally, the younger the better.
Her investigation also uncovered shocking attitudes among clerics towards physical punishment and wife beating.
A woman will be beaten in the name of religion. Beaten. And it will be legal.
One cleric was said to have told her:
A man should not be questioned why he hit his wife because this is something between them.
Manea added women from south Asia living in the UK were:
Up to three times more likely to kill themselves than women in the general population.
The book also claims that Sharia law courts base some inheritance decisions purely on gender. One cleric said:
We are very happy to give the woman half and the man double because I think this is a very fair way of dealing with the situation.
Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani told The Sunday Times she was “shocked and concerned” that women were being treated in such ways:
Just because if her gender by self-appointed community or faith leaders via Sharia courts.There is one law in the UK and that law is set by parliament. No faith-based law trumps the laws of our land.
In response to these allegations, the Muslim Council of Britain said the courts had:
No enforcement powers and operate only with consent of parties. They receive no public funding and perform an important function.
The Muslim Council of Britain is committed to ensure that the council apply rules of natural justice in their proceedings, treat parties with equal respect and fairness, have more women members on the council panels and all panel members are given training on judge craft.
Muslims must have the same right to see justice in accordance with their faith as other faiths have in the UK.
Hat tip: Peter Sykes