A number of Muslim women living in the UK are being left with no legal rights when they try to leave religious marriages, a new report has found.
Aurat, a West Midlands charity which supports women who are victims of so-called ‘honour’ related abuse, claims that some women who marry in Islamic ceremonies are often not married under English law. As a result, they can find themselves without legal protection if they choose to separate.
The report was based on an analysis of case reports from the charity, which interviewed 50 Muslim women between August and September 2014. Forty-six of the women self-identified as being married, but only five of those were recognised by English law.
To make matters worse, the report also found that over half of the women who were not legally married did not realise this meant they had fewer legal rights as a result.
The women interviewed also revealed the cultural pressure they were under to remain married. Almost half said they would not have support from their community or their family if they sought a divorce.
In a foreword to the report, cross-bench peer Baroness Cox claimed that while abuse can manifest in “any faith tradition”, the predicament of women in Islamic communities is “exacerbated by the application of established Sharia law principles which inherently discriminate against women and girls”.
She added that the problems identified in the report were merely “the tip of the iceberg” as there are “countless” more women in similar circumstances throughout the country.
To read the full report, click here.
Last year, the Crown Prosecution Service claimed that some Sharia family courts were endangering women and children.