Five Options for the Relationship between the State and Sharia Councils: Untangling the Debate on Sharia Councils and Women's Rights in the United Kingdom
Journal of Religion and Society, Volume 16 (2014)
18 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2014
Date Written: January 15, 2014
This study clarifies the positions in the debate on Sharia councils and women’s rights in the UK by identifying the arguments for and against state accommodation of Sharia councils. In light of these arguments as well as practice and legal theory, a conceptual framework of five options a state may have is presented: i) full accommodation; ii) partial independent accommodation; iii) partial dependent accommodation; iv) no accommodation, no intervention; v) state intervention. It concludes that proponents argue in favor of “partial dependent accommodation,” but that the UK, in reality, practices “no accommodation, no intervention,” which has led to a bill in favor of state intervention.
The Arbitration Act of 1996 provides legal jargon for religious tribunals, and under the alternative dispute resolution Sharia councils have been able to function. Sharia councils, however, do not mediate or arbitrate. The raison d’être of Sharia councils is dealing with one-party divorce requests based on religious law.
Keywords: sharia, sharia law, sharia courts, sharia councils, CEDAW, feminism, women's rights, United Kingdom, human rights, state intervention
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