Law Lords condemn sharia as unfair to women

Law Lords condemn sharia as unfair to women October 24, 2008

BRITAIN’S highest court has criticised Islamic law for discriminating against women following a case in which a mother was forced to flee to the UK from the Middle East to protect her son from his abusive father.
The woman, known as EM, came to the UK in 2004 with her son when he was eight. She has had sole custody of him since his birth because of her ex-husband’s violence. She left Lebanon because its laws automatically award fathers custody of children from the age of seven.
In a 5-0 ruling, according to the Independent, the law lords said that there was no place in sharia for the equal treatment of the sexes.
It would be a “flagrant breach” of the European Convention on Human Rights for the Government to send the woman back to Lebanon, where she would lose custody of her son because of sharia law.
Lord Hope of Craighead said that the right to non-discrimination was a core principle in the protection of human rights.

Sharia law as it is applied in Lebanon was created by and for men in a male-dominated society… There is no place in it for equal rights.

Sharia was the product of a much-observed religious and cultural tradition:

But by our standards the system is arbitrary because the law permits of no exceptions to its application… It is discriminatory too because it denies women custody of their children after they have reached the age of custodial transfer simply because they are women.

Wednesday’s decision reversed rulings by the Court of Appeal, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and the Home Secretary that returning EM to Lebanon with her son would not violate her right to family life.
The human rights groups Liberty and Justice intervened in the case. Liberty’s legal director, James Welch, said:

How can the Government speak of equal treatment in one breath and seek to deport mother and child to face separation… in another? The law lords have rightly upheld basic protections which must be available to us all.

EM had obtained, in the Islamic Court in Lebanon, a divorce from her husband, who reportedly ended her first pregnancy by hitting her in the stomach with a heavy vase. She had been awarded physical custody of her son until his seventh birthday.

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  • David

    Common sense and the legal system aren’t things that are generally associated with each other. It’s nice to see them working together for once. Long may it continue.
    I wish EM and her son all the best and a long, pleasant and happy life in the UK

  • June Knight

    Women have no rights in international law. Right of asylum seekers and poltical refugees does not cover women fleeing from violence, sexual exploitation or honour killings. Women and children remain last.
    Don’t worry just buy the little girl a bicycle she will get over it.
    Haven’t got women’s rights in this country yet.

  • Newspaniard

    June Knight. WTF! In many respects, women have more rights than men. Or do you mean you want even MORE positive discrimination, so that the unemployed male has to stand even further back in the jobs queue, for example. When you say ‘this country’, I take it you are referring to England.

  • What’s this, those quislings at Liberty upholding an anti sharia ruling and therefore not standing for airy-fairy “we should let them celebrate thier unique wonderful and peaceful culture”. Stranger things have happened?

  • valdemar

    This is a wonderful and surprising decision. Just when you despair of our judges, a bunch of decent ones come along all at once. Five-nil for freedom! Punch the air, and not your wives/daughters, British Muslim men. Liberty is for all, and you should celebrate it, not curse it.

  • heng

    Mike (off topic):
    I joined Liberty, but mostly over the issues regarding ID cards, detention without trial and mass surveillance. It annoys me somewhat when they start confusing the issues, for example, they made a big thing of that Sikh girl being allowed to wear her bangles in school. No thought given to the liberty of an individual being forced by their parents to wear religious symbols.
    That particular example irks me somewhat because often that is often the reason why schools have rules about what people can wear. It attempts to equalise all the pupils. No pupils are better than another because they can afford better clothes on so on. Of course, this is an idealised view of the situation, but its better than the kids wearing Versace beating up those in Asda gear. Or pupils forced (by their parents) to wear religious symbols being beaten up by kids who consider themselves part of another religion (and thats ignoring the freethinking aspect!).
    So far, my attempts to open up the policies of Liberty have failed (all 3 of the emails!).

  • June Knight

    Newspaniard. It may seem that women have gained but they really have not. Outside observances remain the same but underneath is the same attitudes.
    I have always been aiming at basics violence, health, child welfare etc. As a woman I have suffered violence since day i was born and mum got the traditional boiling hot fat poured over her. As a child from the lower classes it was reiterated to me that we were a lower animal from our betters – church, state, police. and it was of no importance if we were attacked or raped. This stil exists and practised.
    In the beginning all decent men and women were fighting against violence and discrimination and injustice together. Then a dominant minority of the feminist movement decided that all men were the enemy and opening doors and calling me love was the greatest offence. Everything got very nit picky and I have sympathy fro he man trying to meet the constant demands and changing female ego. If you do it just changes. If you don’t she is off and no more fucky.
    But as a female the basic welbeing of women and children will always come first. Violence and sexual assault has gone up It remains the No1 reason for female deaths, suicide, self harm, incaceration in mental hospitals etc. As long as I se 3 year olds being raped to death by a pack of men and a month old baby swallowing her father’s cock to the point that she gags to death it will always be my priority.
    I do not care if you call me love, open doors, not opend doors, leave the toothpaste cap off and the toilet seat up (What’s that about? I can put it down) But a man in my life must be interested in basics. Safety and well being is the only place to start.
    A recent man arguenign in the street about the loss of rights for man referred to Madeleine McCann as that stupid little bith in Portugal who probably got killed and raped. He hoped she got hurt and got fucked real good…” He some how lost his arguement with me and I would never have sympathy for such a man.
    This is the ideas and prejusice we hear everyday. Blacks hear the word nigger, asian hear the word paki, homos hear the word fag or dirty dyke. Women and children hear everyday how violence and sexual assualt is our only existence and worth and see it all the time. How many images or stories or rape or sexual assualt have you heard this week. Think how that feels as a woman. it is constant.
    No one supports safety. Local poltician, eminent people and even alternative press say they don’t care or give a shit about any women or child being raped “FUCK THEM ALL!!” is the response I have got in the last few weeks raising safety fo going out at night. I ws also raising safety for taxi drivers. Again told they are not important expendable. Politician says if I keep raising it my life will get worse (Labour or course) Already been beaten up by police for raising treatment of women victims in police stations. Want to argue?
    Sorry about the nit picking. Can we get back to what is important people’s safety and for women and children that means sexual safety.
    Rights are only rights if they are supported. A few thousand pounds for a small child kidnapped and raped and with life long trauma and internal organ damage is obnoxious when some female exec gets a million because someone mad a comment on her tits. God!! Most women would be multiple millionaires by the end of the day.
    Sorry I have no family or will ever have a family due to abuse. Mother died a vegetable. Brother committed suicide. I cannot have children. Its personal. But then what politics isn’t? Sex is the No1 reason for deaths of women and children in the world. Not famine or disease. No! in this country above cancer and heart attack or road accident. The statistics write the facts.

  • Newspaniard

    June Knight. You are talking about the UK, I know and love, right?

  • Dan

    Newspaniard wrote:
    “In many respects, women have more rights than men. Or do you mean you want even MORE positive discrimination, so that the unemployed male has to stand even further back in the jobs queue”
    Newspaniard, your contributions would benefit from some connection to facts. Such as the continued inferiority of the position of women in employment, for example – pay rates just for starters.

  • June Knight

    New Spaniard
    Yes. I am talking about the UK. My forebears fought for better rights and wlefare for all and persevered to give more rights for women. Rights and a way of life neither my mother or my Grandmother or certainly no women before had.
    It was about basic health and welfare and safety and safety in the home and family and better relaionships. and the silence or collusion with domestic violence and sexual abuse of women and children by church and state.
    It got taken over by fusspot middle class women who spend their time worrying about words, opening doors and calling each other endearments – which personally I like being originally Lancashire and working class. and someone opening the door and being nice was a a God send and a bit of relief in a hard day or unpleasantness.
    The way that women are seen and treated has remained the same. I can vouch for this. Even educated women in positions of social or public service see the working class woman and child as expendable.
    I hve 4 degrees, a CAB advisor certificate and wroked in health and social care. Yet in all these bodies the prejudiced belief is that lower working class women and children don’t matter, ask for it, bring it on themselves or enjoy it as part of our culture (cheek) When I have objected guess who has lost her position and job?
    As for violence and sexual assault of women and children it is up and excused by everyone. “Natural and normal for a man to be violent and enjoy sexual violence” (Heather Hastings Trust) Child abuse is part of Karma (Mental Health Advocate) “Women and children from the lower classes are next to primates so it does not matter” (Fund raiser for community charities) “Once they are done (children being raped) its OK. It does not matter who has sex with them after” (Quaker) “What’s your problem? He has raped you once so if he rapes you again it doesn’t matter. its not as if you haven’t been there already” (Policeman to lady in her 50s who’s rapist keeps harassing her and threatening to rape her again)”Black women are so ugly and obviously descended from apes I would not like to fuck one” (Eminent psychologist at hospital where I worked)
    I do not know where you live? or how awre you are of the world around you and what is really going on. I have never had that pleasure. I think most people walk around in a void.
    Only 6% conviction rate of those who bother to go to the police and go through their distressing system. Most women would not go because of how the police still treat women and children.
    I know child prostitutes and brothel owners who say police and judges and christians and muslims(nothing new there) and senior social workers use their services.
    I would really like your naivity. Unfortunately I have never been in a position to experience it.
    Been going along to Quakers for a few weeks as I have been using their hall as a drop in for women’s forum. They call themselves friends yet in the short time members have been sharing with me their lives and problems. What amazes me is that they have known each other for life. yet no one knows each other or their lives. Their is a conspiracy of silence and veneer that we are OK. Yet in short time I have become aware of a lot of pain going on. The leader is oblivious and not really interested. Pacifism and understanding abuser – poor thing – and doing the Dalai Lama – Lets pretend pain doesn’t exist.
    I’m going to knock it on the head before I knock someone on the head.
    Written a short play called “The Problem of Pain or A Kick in the Balls”
    where an eminent expert explains to the audience all the theories and theologies of the problem of pain while using a volunteer as an example by keep kicking him the balls. After each kick in the balls she exponds the theory before coldly insisting the poor man gets back up for the next example. No recognition or sympathy of the mans actual pain at all. It is just an intellectual excercise.
    Onwards and Upwards.
    Lets reclaim the ground about what is important which is everyone’s welfare and safety and opposing all violence, abuse, discrimination and injustice.
    I have permanent damage and long term effects which will never be relieved. but if I can change it for others I will. first we have to oppose the accepted ideas behind practices.
    I am knocking