On November 19, 2017 I accompanied my wife, Raheel Raza, to London, England. My aim was to visit Piccadilly Circus, enjoy Christmas lights on Oxford Street, check out a pub or two, visit family and watch women from the Persian Gulf shop exhaustively while my wife was at meetings.
All this was not to be as I was invited to give a talk on a man’s perspective on sharia-related issues that have gone horribly wrong in the UK.
Here, I met and heard stories of the survivors and victims of sharia-related abuse. Tina (not her real name) was married through a sharia council, but the marriage was never legally registered, as seems is the norm. Later her husband divorced her, the sharia council says they have no record, and now she is in limbo as she has nowhere to go while her kids have been taken away from her.
Roma is in a very abusive marriage and wants a divorce, but since her marriage is not legal (again not registered), she can’t move on with her life. These were only few of the stories I heard.
The next day was the launch of the Channel 4 documentary “The Truth about Muslim Marriage.” This documentary only reiterated the extent of the problem facing Muslim women.
As a Muslim man, I find it appalling that over 85 sharia councils have been allowed to exist in UK for as long as they have and have not done an iota of good for the three million Muslims of the UK.
Knowing well that patriarchy and misogyny exist in our communities, these councils have been allowed to entrap women, keep polygamy alive and deprive women from their basic human rights.
I also heard the story of Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham (where the scandal of grooming and rape of British girls took place). Champion quit her frontbench role as the opposition minister for women and equalities after a backlash for saying, “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls.”
Its time Britain woke up from its slumber. Unless the Western world realizes this soon, the lights of Oxford Circus and Piccadilly will turn into the darkness of ignorance and the nightmare for women will continue.