Politicians have called for British law to change so as to give sharia brides extra legal rights.
The campaign is being led by Baroness Cox, a cross-bench member of the House of Lords. Her concerns are that Muslim women in Sharia ‘marriages’ or polygamous relationships do not have enough rights.
In a Sharia council, a woman’s testimony is only worth half of a man’s. The Baroness argues this goes against equality legislation and is concerned about women suffering abuse. It is important to note that religious councils cannot rule on domestic abuse cases or on child custody in the UK. Legal advice from a family law specialist is still required.
Religious councils can, however, operate in an advisory capacity. And, if both people in a dispute are happy to have their hearing in a religious court such as a Muslim arbitration tribunal or a Jewish Beth Din court, then rulings on a property or financial dispute can be made. In this way, decisions in religious councils can then be enforced by the civil courts.
The proposals to give Muslim women in Sharia marriages more legal rights have been laid out by Baroness Cox in proposed new equality legislation that has been named the Arbitration and Mediation Services Bill. The Bill has not yet become law as it has to go through several stages of authorisation first.
Slater and Gordon Islamic Divorce expert Kaleel Anwar said, “I am extremely pleased to see a proactive step being taken. I meet Muslim women on a weekly basis who require the assistance of the family court in relation to financial remedies resulting from divorce and are simply unable to due to the current restraints. Providing equality and recognition of this very important issue will help thousands if not millions of women who are suffering or have suffered as a result of the current status of the law of England and Wales.”
Kaleel specialises in dealing with Islamic Divorce and Financial Settlements, Islamic Divorce and property disputes resulting after an Islamic Divorce and is happy to discuss your case with you further.