Thursday, December 10, 2015

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Scrap All Religious Arbitration Forums

Maryam Namazie reports on opposition to Sharia and other religious courts or arbitration forums. Maryam Namazie is a secularist activist.

On Thursday 10 December 2015, 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 will attend 10 Downing Street to hand deliver a letter signed by nearly 400 individuals and organisations urging David Cameron to hold an inquiry into the discriminatory nature of Sharia ‘courts’ and other religious arbitration forums. Letter here. 


These women's and human rights organisations also led successful campaigns preventing public authorities such as the governing body of UK Universities (UUK) and the Law Society from incorporating aspects of Sharia laws into their public policies. 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.

Pragna Patel of SBS says:

Discriminatory religious codes are very much a part and parcel of the continuum of domestic and gender based violence and other abuses that BME women face in their daily lives since they reinforce discrimination, deny exit and prevent women from accessing justice or from asserting their right to equality…For these reasons and more, parallel legal systems must not be allowed to exist.

Maryam Namazie of One Law for All says:

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-Rightwing 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 Centre for Secular Space says:

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.

Diana Nammi of IKRWO says:

The whole premise of religious ‘courts’ is discrimination to women, they represent a major barrier to women’s rights and not only do they deny women justice, they also distance women from the mainstream court system and safety measures, such as civil protection orders, which can have dire consequences. Given that religious ‘courts’ are community based and often mediate, there are dangerous implications including locking women within violent marriages and “honour” based violence. The government must prioritise women’s safety by ensuring access to mainstream justice and preventing the proliferation and deepening entrenchment of these parallel legal systems.

Nasreen Rehman of British Muslims for Secular Democracy says:

Government, Parliament and the courts have a duty to protect the rights and prevent the exploitation of the most vulnerable members of society. But all too often we find they abrogate this responsibility by condoning parallel systems of justice that promote cruel and discriminatory practices perpetuated by obscurantists and fanatics in many faith communities - often, falsely pleading divine sanction as a smokescreen for cruelty. The only way to ensure equality and justice is to stand together for clarity and ‘one law for all.’ This does not mean that we do not accept religious, cultural and ethnic diversity; rather we raise our voices against injustices perpetuated in the guise of faith and culture.

For more information, contact:

Pragna Patel
Southall Black Sisters
pragna@southallblacksisters.co.uk
020 8571 9595
@SBSisters

Maryam Namazie
One Law for All
maryamnamazie@gmail.com
077 1916 6731

10 comments :

Wolfsbane said...

Religious/ideological courts have a place - for those who willingly submit to the system. But the only binding legal court must be that of the national law. When you join a club, you sign up to its rules. If you don't like how that works out, you are free to leave.

diplockcourts said...

Wolfsbane

Religions should not have anymore power over anyone's life than your average tennis or chess club. How many peoples' lives have been controled from cradle to grave just because their parents had them indoctrinated from birth into some religion?

Joining a club does not mean that you are forever beholden to that club -or suffer death if you leave it. No religion should have more authority than the national law or international human rights law -but some do or think they have. Religious courts do not have a place beyond club committees -all male and female circumcisions of children should be outlawed. When they turn at least 18 they can have it inflicted upon thelselves if they so desire -but under the age of capacity -not even parents should have that right to make a decision that will have lifelong decision consequence to any child. There should never ever be religious kangaroo courts anywhere.

It is high time that religious education in schools should include the right to know all the bad stuff about various religions -girls will have to forfeit gender equality -depending on sexual orientation -you might be murdered -if you change you mind and want to opt out of religion -you can be murdered -say something inapproriate and again you might be murdered for blasphemy

History shows us that the religiously pious and righteous are the most sadistic killers there is -the ungodly have never done half the shit they do or have done.

Wolfsbane said...

diplockcourts

I agree with most of your comments, for example: 'Religions should not have anymore power over anyone's life than your average tennis or chess club'.

But I doubt this is true: 'How many peoples' lives have been controled from cradle to grave just because their parents had them indoctrinated from birth into some religion?'

I think most people choose to accept or reject whatever world-view they had taught them as a child. Not saying it brings them no conflict, guilt, etc. - but they are able to reflect on and reject as they like.

'Joining a club does not mean that you are forever beholden to that club -or suffer death if you leave it. No religion should have more authority than the national law or international human rights law -but some do or think they have.'

Indeed - that is the problem with many religions/ideologies - they think they have the moral duty to impose their 'truth' on the world.

'Religious courts do not have a place beyond club committees'.

Indeed.

'-all male and female circumcisions of children should be outlawed.'

Now that is problematic, in the case of male circumcision. It would require the suppression of a whole religion (Judaism, over what is a minor operation on a baby.

There is no defence for female circumcision.

'When they turn at least 18 they can have it inflicted upon thelselves if they so desire -but under the age of capacity -not even parents should have that right to make a decision that will have lifelong decision consequence to any child.'

Male infant circumcision has as much benefit as not.

'There should never ever be religious kangaroo courts anywhere.'

No court other than those of the State should have legal powers. Clubs/societies have the right to their internal discipline of those willing to accept it.

'It is high time that religious education in schools should include the right to know all the bad stuff about various religions -girls will have to forfeit gender equality -depending on sexual orientation -you might be murdered -if you change you mind and want to opt out of religion -you can be murdered -say something inapproriate and again you might be murdered for blasphemy'

I agree. An accurate and full description of all religions/ideologies ought to be taught. It would take a lot of work, however, to make sure none was misrepresented.

'History shows us that the religiously pious and righteous are the most sadistic killers there is -the ungodly have never done half the shit they do or have done.'

Well, the ideologically-driven have the capacity for sustained and extreme violence, if their ideology is of that sort, while the criminal types are more likely to settle for whatever makes money and power. But whether it was Marxism or criminality that drove Stalin, Mao, etc.,it's hard to say. Same for the Popes, Hitler, Islam, etc. Most of the guys at the top could be interchangeable, I suspect.

diplockcourts said...

Wolfsbane

I am not sure claims of health benefits from male circumcison is a preferable option than good personal hygene?

Regardless, each person should make decisions about their own body -if they want parts cut off then they can decide that for themselves. Being a parent does not give them the right to make major decisions about bodily integrity -certainly adults can make decisions for their children -particularly for necessary surgery but not religious ritual/cosmetic alteraltions to perfect human genitals that some religions believe god fucked them up and they have to put right.

"An accurate and full description of all religions/ideologies ought to be taught. It would take a lot of work, however, to make sure none was misrepresented."

No -school for kids provides the basics not indepth PhD standard research. My point is that any religion taught in school is misrepresented - all the freaky bad stuff is air brushed out.

Wolfsbane said...

diplockcourts, regarding circumcision, are you prepared to suppress Judaism - and likely Islam too?

Yes, the basics of religions/ideologies is enough for schools - but it must be accurate. It is so easy to misrepresent a view that one finds offensive. I hear it all the time, even from well-meaning people. Let's hear the 'warts and all' - but make sure they are the actual warts, not blemishes we impose because we don't like the object!

diplockcourts said...

Wolfsbane
Neither Judaism nor Islam should have any right to genitally mutilate any human being particularly defenceless children. If Judaism or Muslims want to perform masochist rituals they should do it on each other as consenting adults but not on children where it is physical child abuse couched as religious ritual. It should be banned were the victim is an unconsenting vulnerable child and branding it with religious title does not change what it is.

diplockcourts said...

Woldsbane

The world is in turmoil because Mulsims have not a single understanding of Islam so how are non-Mulsims to interprete Islam? You sound like a religious persons whose religion has been misunderstood -you probally would not like my view of your brand of religion -each religion only likes the version that it depicts about itself. So maybe it would be easier to just ban if from schools? Because every religion will complain that it is not done right unless they have control of the class.

The most important thing to be taught about religion is the right to be free of it if you chose.

Wolfsbane said...

diplockcourts,

You still have not said what you would do about circumcision - jail every Jew and Muslim? Take all their male children into custody from birth?

I appreciate your concern and your view on not imposing things on children, but I suggest such ancient and pervasive customs are better let alone if the cost of eradicating them is genocide or WWIII.

Better focus on the worst abuse - FGM. Start and consistently continue jail all connected with it. It's a relatively uncommon practise and disapproved by many Muslims themselves.

Wolfsbane said...

diplockcourts said:

'The world is in turmoil because Mulsims have not a single understanding of Islam so how are non-Mulsims to interprete Islam? You sound like a religious persons whose religion has been misunderstood -you probally would not like my view of your brand of religion -each religion only likes the version that it depicts about itself.'

Indeed. So let the schools ask the various religious sects to present their beliefs. If it's inaccurate, they have only themselves to blame. And to overcome the likelihood of them ignoring the bad bits, let all the competing religions/ideologies sit in and have a right to bring it all out. And/or have it all thrashed out in print and have that agreed account published for the students.

Same thing could be done for politics classes.

So maybe it would be easier to just ban if from schools? Because every religion will complain that it is not done right unless they have control of the class.

The most important thing to be taught about religion is the right to be free of it if you chose.

Wolfsbane said...

diplockcourts,

Sorry, I missed this:
'The most important thing to be taught about religion is the right to be free of it if you chose'.

Well, certainly a crucial thing, amongst others.