An independent review into the application of sharia law in England and Wales has recommended changes to offer greater protection for Muslim women in family law and divorce.
This includes the recommendation, now rejected by the Home Office, to create an official regulatory body for ‘sharia courts’. Humanists UK has welcomed this as such a move would risk giving legitimacy to quasi-legal institutions that do not have any UK law.
The report proposes to create a regulatory body, similar to Ofsted, to enforce best practice among sharia courts, particularly with respect to the treatment of women. Although this proposal may bring better transparency and accountability across sharia courts, it risks granting legitimacy to an alternative system of dispute resolution, one that is outside of and, in some cases, in conflict with UK domestic law.
Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘There is a need to ensure those using sharia courts for Muslim marriages or other services enjoy the same rights and protections as others, including guaranteeing the best protection for vulnerable partners. However, we should be very clear that UK law is supreme and that sharia courts have no legal standing. We will oppose any measure to cloudy or remove this distinction.’
For further comment or information please contact Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07815 589636.
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