One woman's brush with Sharia courts in the UK: "It ruined my life forever"
Namazie, Maryam; Gupta, Rahilahttp://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rahila-gupta/one-woman-s-brush-with-sharia-courts-in-uk
Publisher: Open Democracy
Date Written: 07/11/2016
Year Published: 2016
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21910
The UK government is conducting an inquiry into the operation of Sharia courts which is being boycotted by a number of women's organisations because its remit is too narrow, and the panel of judges is not seen as 'independent' enough. Parallel to this, the Home Affairs Committee has also launched an inquiry into whether the principles of Sharia are compatible with British law.
On 7 November, there will be a public seminar on "Sharia Law, Legal Pluralism and Access to Justice" 7-9pm at Committee Room 12 at the Houses of Parliament. Below, we publish the story of a woman Shagufta (not her real name) who spoke to the campaign group, One Law for All, and described how a brush with the Sharia courts ruined her life forever.
I am a practising Muslim. My faith is central to who I am. I was born in 1947 in Pakistan and joined my husband in the UK in 1965. I am from a middle-class Pakistani family and found life in England hard. It was a huge culture shock. We settled in the north of England. I supported my husband with his business interests and eventually had my own business running a cookery school and a halal food company. I had six daughters and a son.
After my husband died in 1987 I moved to London with my children. My older daughter, Lubna (not her real name) moved to London in 1994 after the breakdown in her marriage. After the British courts granted her a civil divorce, I hoped that would be the end of our involvement with my ex-son-in-law. Sadly this was not to be the case. He visited our local mosque and denounced me to the gathering, saying that I was 'a loose woman' who was pimping her daughters. He asked the mosque elders to help him get his children and his wife back to save their morals. A delegation from the mosque visited my home to convince me that the best thing would be to make my daughter return to her husband. I told them she was divorced but they said the English divorce meant nothing and was not valid in Islam. I was so angry at the vile allegations of these men.