A Pakistani woman has been granted a Sharia divorce from her abusive husband.
The 37 year-old arrived in Britain in 2010 on a study visa, but the trip was actually a way to escape her husband. They were married in a New York ceremony when she was 24 and then lived together in Pakistan. She claimed that during their marriage, she was subjected to abuse such as being locked in a room for weeks at a time and only let out in order to cook her husband’s meals.
She was able to obtain a civil divorce in the UK, but wanted to get an Islamic one too, as she worried that if she tried to remarry her husband could “come and jump in and say ‘she is my wife’ ”.
A judge in a Sharia court in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, ruled that the husband’s behaviour during their marriage was not allowed in Islam and supported the wife’s application. Although the husband’s family denied any abuse had taken place during an angry phone call to the court, the judge stood by his decision.
Speaking to IBTimes UK, the former wife said the British Sharia court had been “very supportive”, and had told her that now she was free from her husband. She added:
“I am happy. My daughter is here now and we have a lovely life. We don’t miss Pakistan at all”.
For Muslim women, getting a sharia law divorce can be difficult. They must go through a religious court and have permission from a male relative. By contrast, a man simply has to declare his wish for a divorce three times, using the Arabic phrase “ant taliq” (I divorce you).
Last year Home Secretary Theresa May announced the launch of a government review of sharia courts. She said that the enquiry would try to identify any rulings by such courts which were incompatible with English law.