The Spectacle Blog

Women & Sharia Law in the UK

By on 10.27.11 | 12:09PM

Reid Smith seeks to enlighten us on the question of Sharia law. But curiously he omits one of the central tenets of Sharia law - that the word of a woman is half that of a man.

Yet Smith is correct to say that we might be surprised by the number of countries which use Sharia law. Which brings me to the United Kingdom. As of 2010, there were just under 2.9 million Muslims in the U.K. comprising 4.6% of that country's population. In less than a decade, Britain's Muslim population has increased by nearly 75%.

Thus it should not come as a surprise that there are a network of Sharia courts in Britain and their rulings are legally binding. According to a study released in 2009 by Civitas, a British think tank, there are 85 Sharia courts in the UK. Some of these Sharia courts have issued rulings which are incompatible with British and European law including rulings forbidding marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims, ordering the removal of children from the custody of Muslim women who marry non-Muslim men, compelling women to have sex with their husbands and sanctioning polygamy. This past June, Baroness Cox introduced legislation in the House of Lords to rein in the Sharia courts requiring them to uphold the supremacy of British law. However, even if the bill is approved in the House of Lords it is not expected that the Cameron government will make it a priority in the House of Commons.

And lest anyone believe that women are afforded the same status as men in Sharia courts in the UK then consider the opinion of the London based Islamic Sharia council (H/T to legalpigeon):

The text (Surah Al-Baqara 2:282) which requires two female witnesses in place of one male witness, gives a clear reason for i.e. "if one of them forgets, the other reminds her." Is this derogatory to the status of women or is it a revealed secret about the nature of the women? Though much has been said about the difference between a man's brain and that of a woman but I would rather like to quote the latest research made about the issue. According to a survey, as published in Los Angeles Times (U.S.A.), made involving fifty men and women for quite a considerable time, the out come was as follows:

Man's mind is uni-focal while the women's mind is multi-focal. In other words, a man would be fully occupied with the task he is involved with; he may not be distracted by anything else while being engaged in his activity. On the other hand, a woman may be busy in kitchen work and she will be easily alert to a phone buzzer or her infants cry from the cradle. In a way she is found to be more sensitive and active in her dealings. Thus she has got a praise worthy character but that is not so good for a case of testimony which requires more attention and concentration. What is wrong then, if a second woman is needed, only to remind her is she fails to deliver her testimony completely. So it is a case of verification of the testimony, not that of degradation to the status of women at all.

I mean when Larry Summers spoke about the innate differences between men and women (an assessment with which he did not personally agree) he was forced to resign as President of Harvard University because of it. Yet it is part of the intellectual underpinnings of Sharia law and any lesson in Sharia 101 would incomplete without imparting that information.

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