A review into the application of sharia law in England and Wales will begin immediately, the Home Secretary Theresa May has announced.
Persistent concerns have been raised that women are suffering because of sharia law in this country, with Baroness Caroline Cox speaking out repeatedly about the issue.
It is expected that the review will be concluded in 2017.
The inquiry will be led by Professor Mona Siddiqui, a Professor of Islamic and Inter-religious Studies at the University of Edinburgh. She will be assisted by a family law barrister and a retired High Court judge.
Theresa May said it was a “significant concern” that a number of women “have reportedly been victims of what appear to be discriminatory decisions taken by Sharia councils”.
“There is only one rule of law in our country, which provides rights and security for every citizen”, she noted.
Last year Baroness Cox – a Patron of The Christian Institute – led a debate in the House of Lords about sharia law.
She said her Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill sought to address the “suffering of women oppressed by religiously-sanctioned gender discrimination in this country; and a rapidly alternative quasi-legal system which undermines the fundamental principle of one law for all”.
Speaking ahead of the debate, she told the BBC that many Muslim women are in touch with her who are “suffering horrendously” under the current provisions.
She noted that sharia law:
In September 2015, equalandfree.org was launched to speak up for women who have suffered under sharia law.
The website includes a number of case studies of Muslim women recounting their experiences.