British Sharia courts protect men who commit domestic abuse, a charity has claimed.
Some of these religious courts urge the Crown Prosecution Service to “reconsider” criminal charges against men accused of such a crime. This claim was made by the Southall Black Sisters (SBS), a London-based non-profit organisation which provides support for ethnic minority women who suffer from gender-related violence.
In written evidence submitted to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, the group claimed that these interventions represented an “attempt to sabotage criminal proceedings”.
One of the institutions singled out by the organisation was the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (Mat) in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. According to the SBS, “the Mat actively involves itself in criminal proceedings on domestic violence” and “uses its position of power to persuade the CPS to drop charges” against abusers.
Not only that, but the Mat also encourages victims “to reconcile with abusive partners without reference to court orders they may already have or to risk assessments and safety planning” the SBS alleges.
This report was part of the Committee’s inquiry into Sharia courts which began hearing oral evidence this week.
Meanwhile, a Muslim women’s group has criticised the nature of the inquiry. Shaista Gohir is the chair of Muslim Women’s Network UK and is one of the people scheduled to give evidence to the Committee. She has published an open letter signed by over 100 Muslim women. In it, she says she is worried Muslim women will be treated like “political footballs”.
Gohir claimed that “people who are anti-faith, particularly anti-Islam … are using women’s rights as a guise, wanting to abolish Sharia councils”.