An undercover investigation in Sweden has found that mosques are telling women not to report abusive husbands and that polygamy is sometimes acceptable.
Many are fearful that similar injustices are happening under Sharia law in Britain, and a Bill to tackle the problem is currently before the House of Lords.
The Swedish findings were reported after an undercover investigation by women posing as abused wives.
Only two out of ten mosques directed the women to report their abusive husbands, and six of the mosques told the women to have sex with the men even if it was against their wishes.
In Britain, there is concern that similar situations are occurring.
The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill, introduced by Lady Cox, would place a legal duty on public bodies to inform women that they have fewer legal rights if their marriage is not recognised under English law.
Critics say Sharia law discriminates against women and should not operate as a parallel legal system.
In January the BBC reported that the use of Sharia ‘courts’ is on the increase in Britain with thousands using Islamic law to settle disputes.
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who grew up in Pakistan, has criticised Sharia law.
He said: “The problem with Sharia is that it is inherently unequal for certain kinds of people. Muslims and non-Muslims are treated unequally. Similarly, men and women are treated unequally.”
Lady Cox’s Arbitration Bill has received support from groups including British Muslims for Secular Democracy and the National Secular Society.
Tehmina Kazi, director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, has said that the proposed legislation would give women greater clarification on their rights.
She said: “There is a gap in the system for Muslim women due to the prevalence of Sharia councils.
“They don’t have any legal power and are completely informal so very hard to regulate and they rule on things such as divorce in Muslim communities. We want to educate women so they know what their rights are.”