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How best to help women caught between different kinds of family law

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leonmen

According to sharia law Muslim men can have even five wives and they can divorce them immediately when they wish by reciting something whilst circling round them.
In Israel it is illegal to have more than one wife so they have one legal wife and up to four 'unofficial wives'. I am sure this is true in the UK as well. Of course many will one day be divorced so that the men can marry younger women (young girls).
Muslim men can beat their wives and even kill them in cases of 'family honour' according to sharia law. All this is of course 'unofficial' and the non Muslim community will not know about this.. Even when violence is reported the 'politically correct ' police force rarely investigate in the UK because they believe that violence against Muslim women is a 'cultural thing'.
So considering all this - does it really matter what sort of wedding ceremony a Muslim couple have ?

Swiss Reader

In Switzerland (according to Civil Code Art. 97 alinea 3): "No religious wedding ceremony is permitted prior to the civil ceremony."
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I believe that makes sense. Marriage is a legal act and has legal consequences. It's therefore reasonable to insist that it is performed in the way prescribed by the law, no different from the forms required for buying property or founding a company. A religious quack who pretends to perform a "wedding" according to different rules is guilty of fraud.

ashbird

I address the title of this Erasumus piece after reading the article in its entirety twice. Excellent article. Thorough in research, cogent in analysis.
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I think the best way to help women caught between different kinds of family law is to educate the woman in matters of law, in particular secular law. No mystery to that. If she is in trouble, she is the one who needs to take the initiative to change her circumstance, not the state, nor the church.
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I think the Muslim wife of a very famous actor, a barrister in the English court, would have no problem whatsoever if her husband misbehaves. If anything, he has more to worry about than she if that situation arises.

A. Andros in reply to TeWvgSi2jQ

Please note how ponderously TE scribbles that "There is no easy answer" to the problem of a woman under the protection of British custom and statute being treated like a piece of shit.
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And, these liberals really believe that!

Swiss Reader in reply to ashbird

ashbird, I agree it's hard to help somebody who doesn't want to be helped. Talk about Stockholm syndrome! Even worse, a battered woman who accepts her fate may well educate her children in a way to perpetuate that culture of machismo. In patriarchical societies, the wife's mother-in-law is often the worse slave driver than her husband; Chinese literature is full of examples, as you well know.
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To improve matters, I think that next to education also economic development is important: A woman who can go and earn her life alone has more freedom. In badly managed economies, jobs are scarce and girls have little alternative to marry whomever they are told. That's the case in most of the Arab world; it has little to do with religion.
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Anyway, female dependency used to be the case in Western societies too. When I studied law in the seventies, according to Swiss law the husband was still officially the "head of the family"; things have changed a lot since then (alas for me...).

Enders Shadow in reply to guest-ajajjaso

You fail to understand the process by which a lot of mail order (sorry, arranged marriages) work; people from the homeland - often villagers with no English - get married to people in the West on the instructions of their families. The 'marriage' may occur in either the homeland or the UK; in neither case is it likely that the new arrival to the West will have the slightest idea about the laws in the West or any substantial contact with the wider society they've arrived in, especially if they are a woman. Sad but true.

Enders Shadow

Fascinating article; thank you.
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The secularist starting point should be: 'What are you trying to achieve by having marriage law?'. Once you answer that, many of the questions become clearer, but it's not trivial to answer. Certainly one priority is the children; the fact that they are less protected if there is no marriage is an anomaly that make little real sense. Another is the protection of either partner if they make substantially larger sacrifices to the marriages good; the one who stays at home to care for the children, forgoing their career, should expect recompense if the marriage dies.

So it should be AFTER that debate that clear decisions should be taken; however the general principle that if either partner had good reason to assume that their relationship was regulated by the state, then its rules should automatically apply, with an assumption to that effect. This leaves the issue of Shi'ite temporary marriages as potentially problematic; my instinct is that they should be rejected as marriages - but that reflects my endorsement of the gospels' STRONG teaching of marriage as permanent! Indeed the fact is that western jurisprudence starts from this assumption and has only slowly slid away from it is, of course, a stumbling block to other cultures in our society. Note that its adoption was a major gain for women, who in the classical world had very few rights.

ashbird in reply to Swiss Reader

Yes, SR!! Totally totally, as regards *female financial independence*.
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Embedded in the base of gender politics is the ability, or its absence, in a woman to earn her own living without depending on handouts from a man (married or cohabiting). The absence of said ability could, did, and still does, reduce a woman to playing the game of female wiles to manipulate her man for supplies, upping the power game where unimpeachable men are outplayed, while vile men outplay the woman in the same game by the use of brute exploitation (Cf. Weinstein) of hapless women (“learned powerlessness”). The felt sense of powerlessness is conditioned in her, in many instances, via intergenerational transmission of Stockholm syndrome. A more messy mess than this does not exist [maybe with the exception of the Israel<-->Palestine struggle]. And of course you are right about the proverbial slave-driving mother-in-law in traditional Chinese society. The mother-in-laws were driven exactly the same way when they were daughters-in-law.
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That was a paragraph with compound ideas. I've written it that way for your reading. May not suit others. :)
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I didn’t know you studied law, Swiss Reader. No wonder you think with discipline and accountability, not willy-nilly ice-skating on broken skates tied to infirm legs, tumbling, falling all over the place.
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Yes, yes, yes too re Religion and Women. Quote: “… female dependency used to be the case in Western societies too. When I studied law in the seventies, according to Swiss law the husband was still officially the "head of the family"; things have changed a lot since then (alas for me...).”
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In the beginning, all societies were agrarian. The man worked in the fields; the woman tended to the hearth. That was the template for division of labor between the genders. It worked. Then Industrialization came, and changed many things, one of which was the constituents in the labor force. A new format paved the way to a different concept in the division of labor. From this new format emerged the concept of gender equality and equal pay for equal work.
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But of course there are still surviving Dinosaurs in our species of humans. This time the hapless ones are found in a group of men, hapless men - males who missed all the societal changes in last 2 centuries. These Dinosaurs became the modern day (C20 and C21 Misogynists. These Misogynists proudly declare women can’t think and men (they included) can’t be stupid. These poor misguided machismo souls believe in their heart of heart a woman’s place in society is to allow her p—— to be groped and butt to be squeezed. Some of these so-called men openly express this belief and this sentiment on TE community forums. But when it comes to the way backward Islam treats its women, they suddenly become most vocal in criticizing how Islam mistreats and abuses its women. "Christians", they call themselves.
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You are 100% right. Religion has next to nothing to do with any of this stuff. Dinosaurism does.
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ashbird in reply to leonmen

leonmen,
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Re Dec 19th, 09:20 reply, thank you for your feedback. I can see very well how a "claimed" religious faith is used to hate Jews living anywhere in the world, not just in Israel (I reserve comment on the land dispute aspect of the Israeli and Paestininan conflict, as I truly truly truly do not know enough about the history and the politics behind it). Some Catholics do that too - they hate the Jews - for reasons that totally boggle my mind (What in the name of God (their God) have the Jews done to deserve their horrid hatred?!
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That's the problem with folks who cling to a Religious faith or belief to use as a sword and a shield to justify all their actions in life - I am talking about life one earth - the indifferent and the bad , but mainly the bad, in fact, the vile. They slaughter people, and claim their "God" told them to. Really weird. And they say this with a straight face. That, or they'd say, it didn't happen, or if it did, it was so long ago it doesn't count (yes, we have bloggers on TE who actually say things like that!).
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Re assimilation of Muslims. I think we need to separate the hopeless and the hopeful. Call it "triage" if you like. Deal with each as separate as they are.
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A "movement" such as Daesh is hopeless, I think (and I don't have a solution for this).
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The segment in Muslims that are the Bedouin and others like Bedouin represent the hopeful. Hopefully these elements within Islam in time will work/effectuate the slow process of cultural osmosis, which is what assimilation is. Not everything about Islam is bad. In fact, Islam built the first University back in the days. Much of the process of assimilation is organic, not achieved by brute force, but a dogged process of education is essential. The weapon against Ignorance is Education, not bombs. From my perspectice, education is the only realistic solution to conflicts. Brute force may work a quick fix, but it drives a disease from one situs to another, without curing it.
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The trait you describe as "compromise being weakness" is not unique of Islam. Look at Alabama in US. Bear in mind, the Christian Evangelicals who supported Moore lost by a mere 1/2 percent (something like that). Why and how in the world could anyone support the rank racist (the pedophilia charges were allegations, not proven, so as a lawyer, I can refrain from counting that against him until the charges are proven) is something that boggles the mind. But understand that is the slogan of KKK - only white people deserve to live, no other colors do (they similarly hate the Jews).
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I think as awful as everything looks, the faith that justice always prevails and good triumphs over evil (I understand that creed is in Talmud, am I right?) is a helpful and important faith to live by. Otherwise we, who are all different, should jump off the nearest cliff, for life is hard, and living it with both mind and heart is it even harder.

ashbird in reply to leonmen

Thank you, leonman, for alerting me to the distinction between Druze and Islam. Indeed, from Wiki, I read Druze is considered heretical by orthodox Islam.
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My bigger point remains the empowerment of women in a religion-based culture where women traditionally were treated as “second class” citizens, assumed to have no legal rights granted to citizens by secular law, and further assumed to have a pre-existing obligation to endure the abuse and mistreatment by men, physically, mentally, and emotionally .
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THERE ARE indications that changes are taking place to correct the historical inequities. These changes happen first in secular law, the followed by changes in the religious belief and practices that allow and indulge the inequities.
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As I indicated to colleague commenter Swiss Reader below, maltreatment of women is not the monopoly of Islam (recall how many wives Henry VIII had and did they have any say in anything?). In Christian societies, it happens too. Yes, even now. One example is America, seen as contemporaneously as the comments that appear on the pages of TE readers forums. The maltreatment takes place regularly and frequently, perpetrated by a handful, in particular *two* in this handful, of rank misogynists, both claimed (by self) to be devout “Christians”. Their respective posting history speaks abundantly for this observation.
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The following are some links to “fresh” information apropos your reply to me from my research after I read your reply.
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I stress at the outset that on the subject of the links I am a total lay person. I am not a scholar on Islam. Indeed, I know virtually nothing about it - its theology and the practices attached to the theology. I have never read the Quran.
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I stress also as a general approach to ALL religions, I myself adopt an attitude of curiosity, this to be accomplished to the extent my innate intellect allows (which, needlessly to say, might fall far short of all those on TE forums who are far more knowledgeable and clever than I am.)
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I do not represent Islam, nor Christian, nor any classified or organized religion listed in the Encyclopedia of Religion thus far in 2017. The viewpoint I express attendant to the findings below is idiosyncratically my own.
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I also assume the source in the links below are bona fide and its purported veracity not FACTUALLY contradicted -
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(1) https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/can-a-muslim-woman-marry-a-non-musl... (2/28/2017)
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In the article, the author attempts to bring a serious discussion about marriage of single Muslim women (he uses America as an example). The author states nearly 40% of Muslim women, as of the date of his published article, marry outside of their faith and most of them without conversion. Further details are in the article.
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(2) http://mvslim.com/tunisian-women-can-now-marry-outside-muslim-faith-and-...
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According to this August 13 report, Tunisia has become the first Muslim country to legalize marriage of women to men outside the Muslim faith, and per the legal marriage, has equal inheritance rights, in contrast to orthodox Islamic religious law.
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(3) http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/12/2012122795639455824.html
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According to this December 2012 Dec 31 article, ’Halal' interfaith unions are on the rise among UK women. Notably, Britain’s diversity has spawned *financially independent* of Muslim women who are challenging their cultural and religious boundaries (cf. my discussion with colleague commenter SR below re “financial independence*) .
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From my personally vantage point, (1)(2)(3) are all good news, and ought to garner support from folks of other different religious faiths, or no religious faiths.
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Lastly, a bit of fun info: Widow of the late English rock musician David Bowie, Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid (Somali: Zara Maxamed Cabdulmajiid, Arabic: ايمان محمد عبد المجيد), fashion model, businesswoman and philanthropist, is a Muslim. To my knowledge (though I could, of course, be wrong), not a Druze.

ashbird in reply to leonmen

Re Dec 15, 20:40 reply -
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OF COURSE maltreament of women is not the monopoly of Islam. For that matter, of Christianity. There are folks of other religions or no religion at all who mistreat women!! And they don' have to be drunk either!!! Just bigger in size and weight!!!
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I did not mean to say only religious people mistreat women. However, there is some validity in the observation that both Islam and Christianity (2 of 3 Abrahmaic faiths) have a strong patriarchical element built into their theology. In that element, many assumptions are posited. Those assumptions do not hold any more!! The Earth was once believed to be flat. Someone discovered it was not. Then it took some hundreds of years for the rest of the world to be convincced it is not flat. Guess what, as we speak, there are folks in the United States of America that will tell you the Earth is flat and the human life was created in 7 calendar days.
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My point is change, social and cultural change, does not happen overnight. Change happens with someone started the change, and others follow, when what is seen by the naked eye prevails over stupid noise. That is all my point Quite a few female Muslims have started the change. 50 years, there was not a singel one!! So. What can I say. Patience. We do what we can to educate. Beyond that, there is little else we can do.

ashbird in reply to Swiss Reader

SR,
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Of course you are right re requiring a civil ceremony (in US, it is done by registering with the County Clerk office in the state where the marriage takes place) before a religious ceremony.
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But that alone will not suffice to help women who find themselves in difficult family predicaments.
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The problem is this: No state, no church, no social services, sometimes not even the police (in domestic violence cases where the battered woman has to file a complaint) can compel a woman to take action to assert and protect her own legal rights if she is unwilling or not ready to do so.
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I have worked with many abused wives in my dual professional capacities as lawyer and shrink - there are lots of women, spouses of physically and emotionally abusive men , not just in UK, but everywhere, in fact, plenty and plenty in USA. On the woman's part, her "learned helpless" proves to be an unsurmountable obstacle in any 3rd party's intervention to protect her safety and welfare in a bad marriage. Just google Battered Women in America. The problem is NOT unique of Islam. It is common among many so-called Christians. Have you never heard of "Abusive Men Syndrome"? In public the syndrome manifests as misogyny . Men who are culpable of misogyny are wholly oblivious to their own abusive conduct toward women; indeed many take great pride in it.

A. Andros in reply to CaptainRon

The culture within the police department simply reflects the culture in Left England.
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No one wants to tangle with Islam.
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Especially not for something as vague as the status of women.

guest-ajajjaso

Retarded people, even after they live for years in the West, most of them don't change and especially the women, they maintain the status quo of being slaves.
Do we really need to teach them to register their marriage? Really?
How stupid can they be?
I mean I was born and raised in Iraq and I still know I need to register my marriage, how can these stupid girls pretend they are helpless when they live in countries that give them all the rights they need?
If they don't want to save themselves, why should we bother!

TeWvgSi2jQ

Extraordinary how the liberal press panders to illiberal religions. Their ideology of diversity and multiculturalism outweighs women's rights.

A. Andros

"the state would be entering into a religious theological debate which is no position for a secular state to be in. It is not for the state to start defining what is and is not a Muslim marriage."
Well, actually, England is not a "secular state." There is a state church and Her Majesty is not only head of state but head of the C of E. One of her titles, in fact, is "Defender of the Faith."
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What must we believe? Are women oppressed and objectified and so at the mercy of a rampaging male libido? Or, should that libido be empowered by a non-western religion that pushes "temporary marriage" (a/k/a prostituting women) and reduces females to financial infants?
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A reasonable compromise between equal rights and Sharia as regards the marital rights of women is possible.
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To make it work, the West must simply abandon its principles.
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BTW, that soft, turbine-like hum you be hear is the Pankhurst women revolving in their graves.

Bonkim 2003

Regrettably the old saying - you sleep how you make your bed. Islamic and other backward religious/cultural forms of marriage should not be recognized as legal in Britain. Those who choose these will suffer the consequences of their beliefs - as many do where these are the norms. British society should leave these people alone - suffer they may. Everyone has to pay the price of their freedoms and beliefs.

CaptainRon

Always sad when a certain class want to keep the status quo because it helps them at the expense of others.