Britain’s first female sharia law judge has issued a brazen warning that flies in the face of UK law, stating that the “government cannot ask Muslims not to have more than one wife”.
Muslim Arbitration Tribunals, colloquially known as Sharia courts, have existed in the United Kingdom since 1996, when the Arbitration Act began to allow for different religious laws to be applied in cases such as divorce.
While the tribunals are supposed to work within UK law, recent reports suggest that young Muslims are not registering their marriages with the government under UK civil law, instead simply using nikha ceremonies, which can lead to men having a number of wives, and none of the legal responsibility towards them usually afforded to spouses under the 1949 Marriage Act.
Now, Amra Bone, who is the UK’s first female Sharia council judge, has said that “the government cannot — ask Muslims not to have more than one wife. People have a right to decide for themselves,” implying that British Muslims are free to operate outside UK law, as a rule unto themselves and the Sharia courts they feel are legitimate.
Muslim women who enter into marriage in Islamic ceremonies are often duped into thinking that the marriage under Islamic law is enough to protect them under UK law. As such, they receive none of the usual protections under UK law, such as assets being divided in cases of divorce.