Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) condemn the Law Society’s recent guidelines for ‘Shari’a-compliant’ wills in the UK, which make provision for gender-discriminatory inheritance practices. The Law Society’s practice note includes the following points:
“... No distinction is made between children of different marriages, but illegitimate and adopted children are not Shari’a heirs.”
“The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class. Non-Muslims may not inherit at all, and only Muslim marriages are recognised. Similarly, a divorced spouse is no longer a Shari’a heir”.
Clearly, inheritance conducted in this manner discriminates on the basis of gender. When inheritance follows these lines, economic violence against women becomes viable – financial assets follow the male line and women, even if they have previously invested in property for example, can become impoverished as assets are handed to male heirs. In this sense, the guidelines offer a mandate for the financial abuse of women and their children. Such inheritance practices also blatantly discriminate against ‘illegitimate’ and adopted children.
Reading the stories of women’s rights activists across the world in the 16 Days blog series has been an empowering experience. The experiences of violence, extra-judicial punishments and honour-based abuse taking place in countries such as Yemen, Iraq and Pakistan are humbling and give us an extra appreciation of the relative security and peace we have here in the United Kingdom. However, we hear echoes of the climate of fear described in these blogs in the calls to our helpline from women and men living in towns and cities in this country. Most of our callers are female, but a growing number are from men and boys. Some callers are too scared to say their names, using pseudonyms for weeks until they begin to trust us enough to tell us who and where they really are. Some speak in a whisper, calling from under their bedcovers or behind a locked bathroom door from a secret mobile phone they keep hidden from their family.
A report by Dr Chris Allen and his team at the University of Birmingham based on data from Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Hate).
The report discusses the disproportionate targetting of women in Anti-Muslim abuse and concludes that women showing 'visible identifiers' of 'Muslimness' - i.e. headscarves - suffer such abuse at higher levels.
The read the full report, click here or download the pdf.
This June 2013, Women Living Under Muslim Laws traveled to Nottingham for the 2013 Feminist and Women’s Studies Association conference. In the course of a lively discussion about religion, secularism, law and gender discrimination ignited by our name and history we found itself at the centre of what one member of the audience called the most exciting debate of the day.