Fearing ‘Islamophobia’ Accusations, UK Govt Allows Sharia Marriages Which Trap Women in ‘Marital Captivity’: Report

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 23: A mosque stands next to a church in Lozells on March 23, 2017 in Birmingham, England. After yesterday's London terror attack, police have made a number of arrests and raided addresses in Birmingham and other parts of the country. British born attacker Khalid Masood, from …
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Thousands of women are trapped in “marital captivity” in the United Kingdom, as the government has refused to make the registration of sharia marriages mandatory out of fear of appearing “Islamophobic”, a report has found.

The report, entitled Fallen Through the Cracks, authored by Emma Webb of the Civitas think tank, revealed that of the 100,000 sharia marriages that are held each year in Britain, only around 25 per cent are actually registered with the government.

The research published on Tuesday found that people in the government are afraid of accusations of being Islamophobic if they crack down on the unregistered marriages and view the practice of sharia marriages as a “social and religious” problem that should “be dealt with by the community rather than the law”.

Failures of the government to tackle the issue have resulted in hundreds of thousands of women being trapped in marriages in which they have little or no legal recourse in the event of an Islamic divorce, in which they are often forced to forgo custody of their children.

As the state does not sanction the marriages, there is also nothing preventing Muslim men from taking multiple wives, as laws against bigamy do not apply to unregistered sharia marriages.

In 2018, a British reporter, David Jones, was granted access to a Sharia Court in Birmingham, England, which was given authority to settle business, marriage, and financial disputes under the Arbitration Act of 1996.

“What strikes you first is the squalid nature of the women’s stories. Their husbands have beaten and abused them, they claim; lied and cheated, cavorted with prostitutes, become addicted to drugs. One weeping wife even accuses her spouse of molesting her infant child,” Jones reported.

The author of the study, Emma Webb, told The Telegraph: “Despite calls from Muslim women activists and the international bodies, every day women continue to suffer horribly because of completely unjustifiable shortcomings in our legislation.”

“Despite bigamy being illegal in the UK, the fact that religious-only marriages can go under the radar effectively allows men to enter into polygamous relationships that leave the women with absolutely no marital rights or legal protection under UK law,” she said.

“This leaves women and their children vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and destitution – it simply cannot be allowed to continue,” Webb concluded.

The study recommended that Parliament update the current legislation to make all marriages, including religious marriages, in England and Wales mandatory, in line with the Marriage Act 1949 (Amendment) Bill.

The author also said that the government should extend the Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act 2002 to cover Islamic divorces, as was previously done with the Jewish community in the United Kingdom.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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