Law Society withdraws ‘sharia’ practice note

Law Society responds to women’s rights activists with apology and withdrawal of its endorsement of discriminatory Sharia law

 Diana Nammi, Executive Director of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) is available for interview.

 On 24 November 2014, the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, following a long campaign by women’s rights activists, the Law Society, the professional body for solicitors in England and Wales, announced that it has withdrawn its guidance on Sharia succession rules which discriminate against women and some children and has appologised.

Diana Nammi, founder and Executive Director of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) says:

“I am delighted that the Law Society has withdrawn its guidance on Sharia wills and has publically apologised for its misguided approach, following a long collective campaign from IKWRO and a number of women’s rights activists. I hope that going forward, the Law Society will have learnt from this episode that it must never endorse discrimination and that it should be a protector of human rights and equality.

IKWRO works with thousands of women and girls who have experienced first-hand, discrimination and inequality under Sharia law, before fleeing to the UK in the search of safety and respect for their human rights. We cannot allow Sharia law, or any parallel legal system, to take route in the UK. We must defend the hard won successes of the women’s movement which has contributed to great strides in equality in UK law. We must not undermine this progress by allowing the infiltration of Sharia law, under which Muslim women in the UK are subjected to lesser rights than women under state law. 

Whilst this is a great victory, there are estimated to be over 120 Sharia courts operating in the UK, which are completely unregulated by the government and are discriminating against thousands of women on a daily basis. To ensure that all women, regardless of religion or ethnicity, are accessing equal law, which adheres to human rights, the government must stop ignoring this issue and take steps to ensure that no parallel legal systems operating in the UK.

The government must also address the issue of access to the law, and re-think its policy on legal aid cuts, which in practice are preventing many people on low incomes from accessing justice and are disproportionately affecting women from minority communities.”

ENDS

Related: UK Law Society scrapping of sharia advice is victory for women, NGO says

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