01 March 2017

Inside Britain’s sharia councils: hardline and anti-women – or a dignified way to divorce?

.... Khan fears councils are becoming increasingly misogynistic and inefficient. “Sadly they have become a victim of their own success – they are overworked. The Salafi [ultra-conservative] influence on religion has brought in a real misogyny. They have become more hardline and anti-female.”

This can be seen in the most frightening complaint against sharia councils – that with divorce permissible but discouraged by Islam, women are pressured into mediation with violent partners – or even reconciliation. Savin Bapir-Tarvey, a psychologist with the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), sees around 15 clients a week, many of whom are extremely vulnerable.

She says cultural concepts such as honour are used to manipulate women. “They have experienced severe abuse and their children have witnessed it,” she says, but they are told that “to leave would bring shame on the family”.

Even marital rape can be ignored. “Women who have been through FGM might not make that clear [to their new husbands], but they might say they don’t want to have sex. One woman was told it was her duty – and she should pray while her husband has sex with her – basically while he raped her.” [The Guardian] Read more