Doing away with the practice would provide us with an alternative means of curbing abuse and exploitation, placing the onus on those who ‘marry’ couples despite being aware of the risks facing women
Last week saw the launch of Muslim Women’s Network UK (MWN)’s latest hard-hitting research, Muslim Women’s Experiences of the Criminal Justice System. The report shines a light on the struggles faced by female Muslim victims of abuse when trying to obtain justice.
Issues range from poor standards of investigation, disempowering flaws in victims’ right to review, incorrect information being given, a lack of understanding of the links between revenge porn and honour-based violence, and, if all that wasn’t enough, there is even an element of victim-blaming (apparently, the natural consequence of texting an ex-partner to leave you alone is for him to punch your car).
Amidst all this, however, there is an issue that goes beyond the realm of the criminal justice system and extends into the world of family law; that of religious-only marriages.
Fiza* started a relationship with Tariq*, who soon became controlling and emotionally abusive. With the couple both being Muslim, he began pressurising her to marry him and misusing faith to guilt-trip her. It seems Tariq had decided all of a sudden that “dating” was now a sin, something that apparently he hadn’t thought of when they started their relationship. Fiza did not want to get married but felt she had no choice. She was taken to a house where an Islamic ceremony took place in the presence of an Imam and two men acting as witnesses. Fiza eventually ended the relationship; she did not accept she was married and certainly did not want to continue with the marriage even if she was. Tariq, however, demanded she return to him, and started a campaign of harassment.