The archbishop gets his wish

Bad news.

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence. Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court. Previously, the rulings of sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims. It has now emerged that sharia courts with these powers have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network’s headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The government did this quietly? Why, exactly? And how? And what are they thinking?

There are concerns that women who agree to go to tribunal courts are getting worse deals because Islamic law favours men. Siddiqi said that in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons. The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia. Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts.

Well, exactly. This is why this kind of shit is not a good idea and should not be done, not noisily and certainly not ‘quietly.’

In the six cases of domestic violence, Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment. In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations. Siddiqi said that in the domestic violence cases, the advantage was that marriages were saved and couples given a second chance.

No – that’s dead wrong. The men were given a second chance, and the women were denied the chance to escape violence. ‘The marriage’ should not be ‘saved’ at the expense of the woman’s safety and freedom, and it’s not ‘couples’ who need chances, it’s people who do, one at a time. This business of valuing marriages and couples more than the women who are trapped inside them is a terrible cheat.

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