The suffering of Muslim women from religiously-sanctioned discrimination is an “affront to our hard-fought freedoms”, MPs and Peers have told the Government.
Almost 50 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum called on the Government to back the principles of a Bill which seeks to curb such problems.
Baroness Cox – a Patron of The Christian Institute – has introduced the Arbitration Bill, which is being considered in Parliament.
No questions asked
The comments came as a Muslim expert on human rights and Islamic law uncovered some disturbing mindsets in UK-based sharia councils.
In a soon-to-be-published book, Elham Manea quotes one Islamic cleric saying, “‘a man should not be questioned why he hit his wife because this is something between them'”.
Another imam said giving a woman half that of a man in inheritance proceedings is a “‘very fair way of dealing with the situation'”.
Manea’s book, ‘Women and Sharia Law: The Impact of Legal Pluralism in the UK’, criticises those who have expressed support for sharia councils – including former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
She says that sharia councils increase “segregation, inequality and discrimination”.
In a letter to The Sunday Telegraph, parliamentarians spoke out on the principle of equality before the law and discrimination.
MPs, including those from Labour and the Conservatives, along with Liberal Democrat, Crossbench and other Peers, said “many women in Britain are not experiencing the legal rights to which they are entitled”.
“There are particular concerns about the suffering of some Muslim women who are oppressed by religiously sanctioned gender discrimination – especially in relation to polygamy, divorce, inheritance provisions and domestic violence.”
Cautiously welcoming an upcoming Government-backed inquiry, the Parliamentarians said “much more needs to be done”.
“We urge the Government to adopt the provisions of Baroness Cox’s Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill.
“The Bill cannot solve all of the complex and sensitive issues involved, but it does insist that the rights of all women, and the rule of law, are upheld”, the MPs and Peers concluded.