Wednesday, 9 December 2015

End parallel legal systems that discriminate against women

A number of organisations including Southall Black Sisters (SBS), One Law for All, Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), Centre for Secular Space and British Muslims for Secular Democracy are to deliver a petition to 10 Downing Street tomorrow urging the Prime Minister to hold an urgent enquiry "into the discriminatory nature of Sharia ‘courts’ and other religious arbitration forums".

This alliance of groups has previously been successful in persuading the governing body of UK Universities (UUK) and the Law Society from incorporating aspects of Sharia laws into their public policies.

A joint press release argues:

With regards the question of parallel legal systems, they argue that in these times of draconian austerity measures and cuts to legal aid, these unaccountable, arbitrary and religious ‘courts’ presided over by fundamentalist religious forces are increasingly filling the vacuum that is created. They dispense a second rate system of justice that denies vulnerable women and children access to equality and human rights.

Campaigners are calling on the government to exclude Sharia and all other religious forums, including the Jewish Beth Din from presiding over divorce and family matters; to reinstate legal aid; to stop the repeal of the Human Rights Act and to re-affirm the principle of the separation of religion and the law. The law is a key component of securing justice for citizens and one law for all.

Marynam Namazie of One Law for all stated:

Dismantling religious courts isn’t a denial of people’s right to religion, it’s a defence of human rights, and particularly women’s rights vis-a-vis the religious-right wing and their attempts at restricting women’s rights in the family. By allowing religious courts to operate, we are saying that Muslim or Jewish women do not have the same rights as others in this country. This is unacceptable.

Gita Sahgal of the Centre for Secular Space added:

Sharia Councils drag women into living out a fundamentalist vision of Islam. They do this by promoting ‘Islamic law’ as higher than the law of the land and by marketing divorce as a solution for a problem they have created. It is a disgrace that they are tolerated by the authorities and allowed to become charities. All parallel legal systems are discriminatory and undermine women’s rights under the law. It is time that they are dealt with.
Sadly so many western "feminists" and student union activists lack the courage and moral authority to stand up for the rights of women from minority groups citing "Islamophobia" as an excuse for their cowardice.

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