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British government allows first official Sharia courts which, surprise surprise, give women unequal deal

(27 Posts)
TheDullWitch Thu 18-Sep-08 10:55:34

www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article4749183.ece

What a coincidence, in both domestic violence cases, the women went back to abusive husbands and police dropped charges. I can't believe we are not ensuring Muslim British women have full protection of law.

expatinscotland Thu 18-Sep-08 10:57:08

i can't believe they're giving ANYONE the chance to use any other type of law than British. i think that is absolute bullshit.

and i say that as a naturalised citizen.

if you don't like the law of the land here, get out.

sitdownpleasegeorge Thu 18-Sep-08 11:19:16

I'm actually appalled to read about this and disappointed in us as a nation allowing it to take place. It seems to have been done in much secrecy though possibly to avoid national outrage possibly by the BNP whipping things up into a frenzy of xenophobic protest.

Anger management courses for the husbands is useless unless followed up by an assessment of the effectiveness thereof with the wife ultimately deciding whether she wishes to stay in the marriage.

If various religious groups want sharia law then they should emigrate to a country of their choice that practices it. We should be free to practice our chosen religion in the UK but only within the confines of what is legal in this country.

This is a very sad for British muslim women.

Kathyis6incheshigh Thu 18-Sep-08 11:27:09

Yes, I think this is, ahem, problematic to say the least.

Sharia mortgages etc - fine. Also you could see it being useful for dispute resolution in things like disputes between neighbours, if they are both Muslim. However when it comes to domestic violence, inheritance or divorce issues, one party is so obviously disempowered by it. I know they can only do it if both parties agree in advance to go down the Sharia rather than the normal legal route, but are all the women who use it in these cases really informed & empowered to make that decision? I wonder.

lljkk Thu 18-Sep-08 11:31:30

My understanding of Sharia courts is that they are voluntary, and they have to be compatible with British laws -- much like a mediation service. Plus they only apply to things like custody. I think maybe you're all getting your knickers in a twist about what this really means...

lljkk Thu 18-Sep-08 11:32:49

So we do go Nanny state, Kathy6inches, and start protecting people from their own religion?

Apparently British Judaism already has courts exactly like the Sharia ones...

platypussy Thu 18-Sep-08 11:44:17

I cant believe their stance on inheritance if what I read in a recent article is correct. Male children get more than female children.

Oliveoil Thu 18-Sep-08 11:46:51

there is a thread already in Chat iirc on this

said the same as this one, not good for dv cases at all imo

sherby Thu 18-Sep-08 11:49:44

scary reading

according to that article there are Jewish courts but they decide if things are kosher etc they do not rule on domestic violence and other issues where one party is obviously going to come out worse off

Kathyis6incheshigh Thu 18-Sep-08 11:59:23

"So we do go Nanny state, Kathy6inches, and start protecting people from their own religion?"

That's a very good question Lljkk. It's certainly something that should only be done with the utmost caution (people have a human right to practise their religion, after all) - but if it looked like human rights were going to be compromised then yes, there would be a case for doing that.

The issue is whether people are acting voluntarily or under duress. If a woman says 'yes, I understand that if I go with a Sharia court I will get less of an inheritance than if I use a secular court, and that is what I want to do' and she is saying that without being under undue pressure from her community, that's fine. But in domestic violence cases in particular, where victims tend to be disempowered, there's a question mark over how free they are to make the decision.

AtheneNoctua Thu 18-Sep-08 12:14:58

Nothing short of shocking. This does indeed look like the thin edge of a wedge. There is and should remain one law of the land.

CoteDAzur Thu 18-Sep-08 12:16:05

It's insane.

Speaking as someone born Muslim (although non-believer).

Blu Thu 18-Sep-08 12:31:28

IF 'courts' are set up as a form of mediation, and do not over-ride UK law, and the 'defendants' stll have full recourse to UK law, then I can see that this could be as llkjj describes....but SURELY, SURELY the police should not be allowing violence to be dealt with within a voluntary, sub-legal, su-judiciary way?

I am horrified, and will have to start eating my hat because I always believed that shariah would only be invoked as a community-level mediation structure - not in place of the rights and over-arching power of UK law.

And it is particularly perniscious for women - not just because of the way islamic law views women in relation to men, but because some muslim women are also culturally more isolated from wider access to the law and support beyond the community.

Where are all those political Asian women's pressure groups of the 80s???

smallwhitecat Thu 18-Sep-08 13:17:16

Message withdrawn

Litchick Thu 18-Sep-08 13:27:16

Blu - we'll have to share that hat.
I've been saying all along that sharia courts won't stop someone going to a British court if unhappy - is that not the case?
I thought it was pretty much like any other mediation process and that you can accept the outcome or not.

MrsTeasdale Thu 18-Sep-08 13:41:50

yes smallwhitecat thats right, but arbitration isnt usually used to determine criminal cases (actually most legal systems would regard those issues as not arbitrable)

smallwhitecat Thu 18-Sep-08 13:51:20

Message withdrawn

ruddynorah Thu 18-Sep-08 13:53:00

already a thread on this. not quite as dramatic as it seems, but hey wouldn't be much of a news story if it was explained as it really as.

MrsTeasdale Thu 18-Sep-08 14:15:19

yes - completely agree with you swc - the use of sharia courts in domestic violence cases is said to be a "benefit" because the marriage is saved...benefit for whom I wonder.

lulumama Thu 18-Sep-08 14:18:40

i said this on the other thread and will say it again:

the british justice system is can also be incredibly misogynistic.

we have to look at ourselves too.

how many rape cases, of the tiny number that make it to court , end up with a derisory sentence, becuase the seriousness is not recognised. if the woman was drunk, or wearing short skirt or it was deemed to be date rape

it is not that long ago that rape within marriage was not recognised.. was about 20 years ago i think that it became a crime.

StellaDallas Thu 18-Sep-08 14:25:02

OFGS not this one again.
Read this link before going off on one over a completely misleading and unfounded news story. They are arbitration tribunals and not legally binding in any way.

MrsTeasdale Thu 18-Sep-08 14:41:07

Actually arbitration awards are binding as long as the subject of the dispute is arbitrable. As smallwhitecat pointed out, the tribunal can't rule on criminal law or issues of legal status but can give a binding ruling on other connected issues.

evangelina Fri 19-Sep-08 10:23:13

I completely agree with expat.

Stelladallas, I understood the article you refer to in a totally different way to you. It seems to me that the first half draws the reader in by a conciliatory PC approach, but his true opinions are revealed in the second half which begins "there is certainly room for debate, and concern, about the growing influence of Sharia law in Britain".

He gives many examples, beginning "I am concerned" or "I am alarmed" about aspects of the tribunal system which are very worrying such as information about domestice violence cases being referred to the CPS who then may re-consider criminal charges. (Knowing how PC the police can sometimes be about these communities, how can this possibly be about protecting Muslim women).

He also subtly highlights other worrying aspects, such as "women are of lesser value than men" (isn't it true that this is enshrined in Sharia law, such as women's evidence in Court is given half the weight of a man's?). Likewise, he gave publicity to the Lord Chief Justice's observation about "in some countries the courts interpret sharia law as calling for severe physical punishment". We all know what this means in terms of adultery, theft etc at the extreme end.

Personally, I thought the author was saying that although it is limited now, a door has been opened.

GobbledigookisThrifty Fri 19-Sep-08 10:24:09

Totally with expat. Nothing else to it - it's a no-brainer adn I just am stunned that this has been allowed to happen.

Kathyis6incheshigh Fri 19-Sep-08 10:32:06

Agree evangelina - I didn't find the Joshua Rozenberg article the least bit reassuring.

I am a bit hmm at this 'if you're worried you must be ignorant about it' attitude. The Muslim women I know in RL aren't happy about this development either. Like Blu I was originally in favour of Sharia for all the perfectly innocent things that most Muslims seem to want it for, but there don't seem to be enough safeguards in place to prevent discrimination against already vulnerable people in certain areas.

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