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The Bodyguard shows that Muslim women need more nuanced representation on screen 

The Bodyguard’s season finale was a real tense affair, with a lot of great twists and turns right to the bitter end. Finally, the BBC drama that didn’t depict a Muslim woman (Nadia) as a weak, subjugated woman living in fear and carrying out orders on the say so of a controlling, oppressive man. Sadly, what they depicted instead was a homicidal, jihadist who decided to use her engineering degree to create and sell complex bombs for the highest bidder.

So why are writers for mainstream TV dramas consistently failing to get it right when it comes to Muslim women? It can’t certainly be for a lack of access or information?

When I look around me, I know of many female teachers, accountants, lawyers, property developers, businesswomen, doctors, neurosurgeons and even vets who also happen to be Muslim but are neither oppressed or secret jihadis hating the West. These are simply amazing women who have normal everyday lives as mums, daughters, wives, friends and sisters.

Why can’t Muslim women be portrayed in this way on our screens?

Such nuanced characterisation would help normalise Muslim women, to bring them into the fold.

Recent reports have shown Muslim women bearing the main brunt of Islamophobic attacks in the wake of a re-emergence of the far right. We are clearly seen as easy targets by some, and this is not helped by mainstream TV programmes constantly ‘othering’ us by offering single dimensional characters that viewers simply cannot relate to.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some very good BAME characters in the Bodyguard: Louise Rayburn (Detective Sargeant) Deepak Sharma (Detective Inspector) and Tahir Mahmood (PR advisor to Home Secretary) We also had many female characters in strong leadership roles such as Julia Montague (Home Secretary) Anne Sampson (Head of Counter Terrorism) and Lorraine Craddock (Chief Superindentant) too so the landscape wasn’t all dominated by white, podgy, middle aged men (unlike in real life)

But the only Muslim protagonists in the Bodyguard were all linked to or victims of illegal terrorist activity (Nadia and her strange husband who had allegedly helped to strap her into her suicide vest at the beginning but wasn’t a committed enough jihadi to grow his beard plus the ones who blew themselves up outside the primary school) Tahir Mahmood, a victim, was initially suspected of being the bomber who blew Julia Montague (and himself) to Kingdom come but was cleared after footage showed he was merely responsible for triggering the bomb (made by Nadia and sold to crime boss Luke Aitkens, who must have been storing it on ice until planting it under Julia’s feet)

So what can we do to address the lack of plausible, everyday Muslim women on TV? Some writers I know are writing their own scripts and plays but they still face the uphill struggle of getting through the doors of production companies who will agree to turn their more diverse stories into fodder for the small screen.

I only ask that TV bosses allow Muslim women a chance to show a more human, relatable side that doesn’t want to either hide from nor blow up the world.

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Germaine Greer wants to mollycoddle her rapist. We just want her to shut up.

Before I start writing this, I feel I have to point out a few facts. I grew up reading Germaine Greer’s works, I studied her seminal book ‘The Female Eunuch’ at college and then later at University. I was impressed with her passion and fight for equality between the sexes and felt inspired enough to be the campaigner and proud feminist I am today. Sadly, for someone who was held in such regard by many many people, Greer is singlehandedly trashing the very reputation that she has worked hard for decades to create. Her latest essay, ‘On Rape‘ should be renamed ‘How to kill off any remaining credibility I have’ and just be done with it.

In the latest of her offerings supporting and apologising for rapists, Greer claimed “I’m not saying that its not damaging. Trauma is something that is dictated by the sufferer. I can’t bear huntsman spiders. Its not their fault”. Before I go any further, can I just take a minute out to apologise to all huntsman spiders. I don’t know what you guys have done wrong to be compared to rapists by Greer but I’m pretty sure its not because of your brute force, your inability to take no for an answer and your complete lack of remorse for weaponing your penis and causing victims of sexual violence long lasting damage emotional and psychological damage.

Perhaps if Greer had asked any survivor of such sexual assault, they will tell you how terrible it felt, how afraid they felt, how violated, how brutalised. Because for the majority of rapists, rape is never about sex. It is about control, about satisfying their own needs, about causing their victims maximum degradation and humiliation. I would, therefore, forgive the outrage when she tells rape survivors that they are merely choosing to feel traumatised & violated if I was her.

As part of the same huntsman spider analogy, Greer further claimed that “women are encouraged all the time to be terribly, terribly frightened, and nearly always of the wrong thing.”

Hmmm. “Encouraged to be terribly, terribly frightened?” Who encourages us? Society? Media? Our friends? Or maybe the crime statistics that show a year on year increases in the level of sexual crimes being reported compared to the rates of actual convictions. The Crime Survey for England alone shows more that 510,000 women experienced sexual assault between early 2017-early 2018 and the number of recorded sexual offences are now the highest since records began, according to the ONS (Office for National Statistics)

So you can see, Ms. Greer, there is a really valid reason why women are encouraged to be frightened. It is because  sexual violence is a reality for women, in both the UK and all over the world. Trust me when I say this, the majority of women do not see their attackers as some sort of ‘lost men’ who need mollycoddling for being such predators. What these brutes need is to be exposed and reported to the relevant authorities so that they can be taken off the streets and not pose further risks to other potential victims.

Greer goes on to mention her own violent rape when she was only 19 years old. She didn’t report it because she didn’t want her rapist to be treated like a “mad dog” by the authorities despite the fact that he had, indeed, behaved like a ‘mad dog’. She has also advocated reducing the sentence for rapists if the bar used to convict them is also lowered. Let me tell you as a survivor of sexual violence, reducing the bar will not increase the numbers of convictions for rape. What all survivors want is justice for what their sexual attacker did to them. No one I have ever met or worked with as ever said to me that they would be happy to accept lesser sentences for their rapists in exchange for a lowering of the standards used to convict. We want to see longer sentences so that our attackers are not back on the streets, terrorising women again. If Greer cannot see this glaring truth then she has no right to speak on the behalf of women or for women. She lost that right when she started to defend not only her own rapist but other rapists as well.

Despite her own traumatic experience, Greer wants us to give our rapists a free pass but why should we when they don’t give our bodies a free pass? Rapists inflict their need to control, subjugate and sexually satisfy themselves against our unyielding and unconsenting bodies but we are being encouraged to, turn the other cheek, to protect them and to understand their needs? Isn’t this what patriarchy always told us to do? To ignore the injustices we suffer at the hands of men while ensuring our perpetrators are never held to account? And yet, Greer continues to call herself a feminist.

No thank you. I, along with many others who fight daily for the rights of women, who campaign for laws that stop our bodies being violated and who stand as role models for both young boys and girls, cannot and will not give rapists a free pass. And Germaine Greer is nothing short of Judas in feminist garb for asking us all to put the feelings of rapists above the trauma of their victims. It’s time for her to shut up now.

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Transgender prisoners: Can safe spaces within prisons work?

Stories about transgender prisoners have rarely been out of the news these past few weeks, each headline more provocative than the last. Last week’s headline that a transgender prisoner had tried to use their transgender status to ‘cover up’ their past crimes has all but disappeared but the arguments around transgender prisoners in mainstream prisons remain. So how can we have a sensible conversation about this deeply polarising, and at times controversial topic?

My recent experience of being at Bronzefield HMP allowed me to meet two transgender prisoners. SK*, who was on my wing and with whom I had daily interactions, was transitioning from female to male. The second prisoner, now known as Jessica Winfield, had been convicted of serious sexual assaults against women when she lived as a man. Ms Winfield was housed in a separate wing designated for prisoners who had committed serious offences such as child rape and murder. My stay offered me a real insight on what the reality is for transgender prisoners serving their sentence in a women only prison.

So how many prisoners who self-identify as transgender are there currently in England and Wales? While there are no up to date 2018 figures, according to the BBC that there were some 125 transgender inmates in England and Wales between March and April 2017. These were identified as having had case conferences (CC) with senior prison management and staff on how to best meet the needs of each individual prisoner. According to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), “prisoners on longer sentences are more likely to be managed as a transgender prisoners than those on a shorter sentence” thus implying that the data held by the MoJ is broadly inaccurate and therefore unreliable. There is no substantive data available on transgender prisoner sentences for crimes that result in shorter sentences, hence a truer picture of the actual numbers is currently very difficult to ascertain.

Transgender prisoners who have already obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) were not included in the figure given by the BBC. A GRC is a legally recognised certificate and is issued by the government to those who identify with a gender different to that they were assigned at birth. This means that they are already living as their self-identified gender and, may consider that they have ‘finished’ transitioning. Obtaining a GRC is a long, complicated, invasive and expensive process that can take up to five years but once it is issued, it is legally recognised and enables holders to change their gender on their birth certificate, among other documents.

The current debate around transgender prisoners being housed in women’s prisons has been fuelled by a recent case where a transgender prisoner was found to have assaulted two female prisoners after she was placed at Newhall HMP while on remand for four counts of rape. After pleading guilty to the assaults and charges of rape, Karen White was then moved to Armley HMP, a notorious mens prison on the outskirts of Leeds.

Of the multiple questions raised from this case, two are the most pertinent: ‘How can we protect the safety and wellbeing of the female population from prisoners who have committed serious sexual assaults’ and ‘How can we protect the safety and wellbeing of transgender prisoners while inside prison?’.

Each trans person has a unique set of emotional, psychological and physical needs just like all people in prison. However, meeting those needs may require specialist knowledge or training. It is very hard to apply a ‘one rule for all’ across the board; we have some prisoners who are transitioning from the gender they were misassigned at birth with, some prisoners at the beginning of their journey while some have already started and need specialist mental health support throughout, not to mention ongoing access to hormone therapy to support the transition process. Placing transgender prisoners in prisons that are opposite to their gender can increase the risk of physical, sexual and psychological abuse, especially for the transgender prisoners and in some cases, for other prisoners too.

One of the solutions that kept coming up during numerous discussion over the past few weeks involves providing transgender prisoners their own dedicated space within prisons, very much like stand alone ‘mother and baby’ units currently attached to prisons.

But could this solution have prevented Ms White from sexually assaulting two female prisoners? And what about the safety of prison guards in women only prisons? According to a Freedom of Information request data, out of ten government run facilities, 8 prisons employed more female prison staff than males, while in two the numbers were equal.

Some campaigners argue that we already operate a system where high risk and vulnerable prisoners are segregated from the main prison population. In the case Ms Winfield, she was housed on a separate wing (D) designated for ‘Restricted Security’ (RS) prisoners. These were prisoners who had been convicted of serious offences that would make them a particular target amongst the prison population, such as paedophilia, murder of a child, terrorism and so on. The day to day timetable is planned to avoid other prisoners. In some cases, where interactions can’t be helped, such as a visit to the medical team or to the library for example, each prisoner is assigned their own prison guard who will accompany them at all times. While it is understandable that Ms Winfield hold RS status, what about other transgender prisoners who have been convicted of non-sexual violence offences? Do they have to also share a wing with paedophiles, rapist and child killers?

Having spoken to other prisoners about their feelings towards transgender prisoners and in particularly, Ms Winfield, it became clear that the prisoners were reluctant to engage and interact with her had little to do with the fact that she was transitioning but more to do with the fact that she had committed serious sexual violence against other women. When I indicated an interest in interviewing and speaking to her, I was told to “keep safe” and “don’t allow yourself to be alone with her”. The fact that she presented as a woman and had adopted a female name did little to assuage the fears and concerns of fellow prisoners, and many still viewed her as a predatory man.

This feeds back to the argument that whose interests should be addressed- the majority at the expense of a few or the interest of the few at the expense of the majority?

So could creating safe spaces within prisons to accommodate members of the transgender community be the right answer? There were no issues around sharing a wing with SK*, the second transgender prisoner in Bronzefield HMP. (SK* asked that pronouns referring to him be he/ him) Other prisoners were happy to interact, engage and work with him. Although he had been receiving hormonal treatment, and were in the latter stages of his transition (female to male) he was not seen as a threat nor were there any concerns over sharing communal spaces within the prison. The nature of the offences committed by SK were not sexually related, and according to a fellow prisoner, she felt much safer:

“SK hasn’t been raping women on the outside, has he?’

Does SK’s case highlight that some transgender prisoners can serve their sentence in a mainstream women only prison without facing prejudice or abuse or is it a one off? Does it also depend on the types of crime committed by the transgender prisoner? It is impossible to generalise without having spoken to other prisoners, both transgender and non-transgender, and their experiences of other prisons.

Dani Dinger, an activist who identifies as trans, non-binary and uses the pronouns ‘they/ them’ believes that the following steps would help transgender prisoners and the wider prison population to better manage situations such as this:

1. Give people in prison access to the prison which matches their gender (if they identify as binary. However, if they identify as non binary, there are currently no provision as non-binary genders are not legally recognised. I recommend allowing each prisoners to decide which gendered prison they’d feel most ‘comfortable’ in, though this is still very unsatisfactory.

2. Allow transgender people in prison unquestioning access to medical interventions if that is what they would like, as you would any person in prison who needs access to healthcare

3. Train staff, all staff, on how to work with trans people, and generally LGBTIQ+ people etc. 

4. Provide all residents with access to support, counselling and spaces to raise questions and explore ideas around sexuality, gender and pretty much everything. Provide access to books, education, links with the outside world, support networks to help people adjust to their surroundings and support each other.

(Dani would like it to be noted that they support prison abolition, and the above suggestions are a compromise within a deeply flawed, unworkable system)

Freddie*, a long time campaigner who works with marginalised groups, also agreed with Dani and wrote that we need ‘Safe spaces within prisons, also better education and protection. Real question is what about non binary/ gender neutral etc prisoners…?’. 

Some campaigners, however, feel that a separate transgender wing is not the answer and will only lead to further isolating an already targeted community. Rachel Krengel, a feminist activist and co-organiser for Women’s March London believes “the prison system is very broken, it needs a radical overhaul. To put transgender women in men only prisons is very dangerous, prison authorities have a duty of care to vulnerable and marginalised groups to ensure their safety once they are behind bars. Most of the documented violence in prison is carried out by cis men against other cis men but the good news is that we are now paying attention to sexual violence in prisons which can only be a positive thing.” Ms Krengal further advocated a case by case approach to determine the best course of action to support transgender prisoners.

So could separate wings for transgender prisoners be the answer? Are we not further isolating a minority that has traditionally always struggled to be accepted and integrated? As pointed out by Freddie earlier, “what about prisoners who are non-binary, gender-fluid, gender- neutral and so on- would we need a separate wing for them?” The arguments for and against a safe space for transgender prisoners within prisons are both compelling and controversial. It would seem that the only thing clear at this point is the fact that we cannot ignore this very tricky ‘Pandora’s Box’ any longer and solutions need to be found that ensure all prisoner’s safety and wellbeing are protected.

(*not their real name)

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Saudi court seeks to silence human rights activist. By beheading her.

This week, worrying reports emerged that senior prosecutors in the case against Saudi Arabian human rights activist Israa al Ghomgham had lodged a request to seek the death penalty against her if she was found guilty. Some reports had initially claimed that the sentence had already been carried out but these were quickly rectified by supporters of al Ghomgham.

An impossible battle, however, remains as al Ghomgham is still imprisoned and has only just been brought to trial after nearly three years of incarceration. Her alleged crime? To help organise protests, alongside her husband Moussa al-Hashem, against the regime, and to highlight the continued government-led abuses faced by the Shia minority in Saudi.

Since December 2015, Al Ghomgham, al-Hashem and friends have faced a near total blackout from both family, friends and supporters. But if the Saudis thought that al Ghomgham would have been forgotten about, they were in for quite a shock. Many human rights organisations have spoken out this week against the decision to seek the death penalty in this case; some see it as an unduly harsh sentence that does not fit the crime. But for those familiar with the way the Saudi do things, including the meting out of their idea of ‘justice’, they know that this is the perfect tactic to silence and subdue any hint of protests in a land where barbaric sentences are a way of life.

Last year, I wrote about a possible new dawn for the rights of women living under Saudi law after it was announced that women would be allowed to drive for the first time. When this came into law this year, I again wrote about the momentous decision to allow women to drive, and how we could well be seeing a shift, albeit very slow, towards a more gender equal Saudi society. That is but a myth. Because equality for all cannot exist when even one has none. It is a false dichotomy, a smokescreen.

Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, long seen as the architect behind the Kingdom’s attempts to modernise and appease it’s younger, more liberal growing population, reminds us yet again that when it comes to ruthless autocratic regimes, Saudi Arabia is still king.

Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman seen as the driving force behind the Kingdom’s attempts to modernise.

Although Canadian government has been leading the charge in highlighting Saudi’s abysmal human rights abuses track record, other western countries have been silent, as usual. As a result, armament business is booming, pun intended.

Arms deals between countries such as UK and US do nothing but undermine Saudi human rights while lining the already bulging pockets of arms companies and governments. This is the very epitome of blood money- money being obtained at the cost of another’s life. Britain is washing her hands in the blood of all those who have given their lives for the birth, and subsequent stillbirth, of democracy in Saudi following the failed ‘Arab Spring’ during which some concessions were made to the protesters, which included allowing women to vote, municipal elections and incarceration without trials abolished. The truth is that no matter what superficial concessions were made, the underlying issues that prevail through the deeply autocratic government meant that no real power was ever ceded. We saw this yet again in November 2017 when Mohammed Bin Salman flexed his political muscles and arrested many leading political figures that could pose a threat to his eventual rule.

So what can we do to help Israa alGhomgham? Firstly, TALK ABOUT IT!! Use social media, use word of mouth, use emails and letters to each other. The more people know about what is happening to Saudi political prisoners, the more we can strip away the

Secondly, write to your MPs and politicians and ask them to write to their counterparts in Saudi demanding al Ghomgham face a fair trial without possibility of a death sentence at the end.

Thirdly, demand our government stop selling to Saudi on account of their atrocious record of human rights abuses and to demand immediate accountability of the Saudi government.

Sadly, until our government stop seeing the Saudis as fattened cows waiting to be milked, nothing will change. The sounds of billions of sterling being deposited in British accounts is far more louder than the collective shouts and screams of defenders of human rights.

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UK’s draconian immigration laws mirror Trump Administration’s family separation laws.

At the Women’s March London ‘Bring the Noise protest last month, where 70,000 women, children and men marched against Donald Trump visit to the UK, many of the speakers spoke out against US policy of keeping the children of migrants entering the US. Images that have emerged recently of children in cages were deeply reprehensible and caused an unprecedented furore around the world, with the ensuing backlashes eventually leading to a reversal of the policies. However some young children forcibly separated from their parents could not recognise their own mothers and father when reunited, and cried as though they were being handed back to strangers.

It also led to many activists questioning our own government’s policies towards immigrants and migrant workers. While the UK government does not employ room size cages within which to lock migrant workers in, they do employ similar polices which have seen countless families forcibly separated so that the government can fulfil very strict quotas to slash immigration figures. Yesterday’s article in the Guardian related the first hand testimony of a mother detained after dropping her two year old child off at the nursery. It would be three months before they would be reunited, and now both mother and child suffer anxiety, stress and depression.

Saleem Dadabhoy hasn’t seen his daughter for nearly a year now thanks to a crackdown by government against highly skilled migrant workers

Another one of the victims of the Government’s crackdown on migrants is Saleem Dadabhoy, who came to the UK as a student in 2010, and subsequently settled under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, making the UK a permanent home for himself and his family. However, when Dadabhoy filed an ‘indefinite leave to remain’ application as a Highly Skilled Migrant Worker (HSMW) in April 2017, he was refused under Article 322(5) of the Immigration Act. As a result, his wife and daughter were forced to leave the UK soon after, and could not lodge appeals against the Home Office’s because their ‘right to remain’ in the UK was entirely dependent on Mr Dadabhoy’s visa status. Mr Dadabhoy himself has decided not to leave but to remain in the UK and challenge the decision, which he claims is flawed because the Home Office didn’t take into account the difference between net and gross incomes.

However, this has not been an easy decision for Dadabohy, as he has now been apart from his family for some eight months now. So why doesn’t he leave and resettle back in Pakistan or any other neighbouring country? After all, he is educated and has a reputable background in business. He could easily return and settle into a new career easier than most. However, he has decided to stay in the UK and fight the Home Office, primarily so that others in similar situations as him do not have to go through what he has been going through for the past 18 months now. He concedes that his family’s financial backing has made it easier for him.

Money isn’t important to me,” he said. “My family has enough to enable me to hire the best lawyers and barristers for this fight over whatever period it takes.

“I’m doing this because paragraph 322(5) links me to terrorism, which is the last thing a Muslim would want to be associated with because it not only hijacks and sabotages your identity but also restricts you to travel around the world, which would be especially damaging to me, belonging as I do to a business family who has property interest around the globe,” he said. “Even if I returned to Pakistan tomorrow, this paragraph 322(5) would make it virtually impossible for me to get a business visa, which would be a great hindrance to my family’s business, and my career and personal life.”

But the battle to ‘clear his name’ hasn’t been without casualties; “it is real torture, not being able to be with my family and see my daughter. I don’t know if she will even recognise me now that she hasn’t seen me properly for the past eight months”. Although modern technology such as video calling has helped bridge the physical distance a little, the fact remains that Dadhaboy is on borrowed time. He has many further obstacles to overcome before he can be reunited with his family, including challenging his deportation order, which also prevents him from working or applying for any other type of UK visa. Although the current Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, announced an urgent review into the use of a clause solely intended for those convicted of terrorism offences, this is still not going far enough for the many already caught up in the current quagmire. “Why have people like me been singled out? Because we are an easy target for the Home Office; we comply with the rules and provide our up to date contact and address details. But the Government doesn’t understand that by getting rid of a HSM worker like myself so that they meet their own ridiculous immigration targets, they are depriving the UK of migrants who contribute far more than they take, in terms of paying taxes, and providing professional services. Very soon there will be a great shortage of teachers, lawyers, engineers and IT professionals. It’s a ticking time bomb”.

Indeed, all Saleem Dadabhoy can do now is wait for yet another appeal to be exhausted while the distance, and time spent apart between him and his family grows ever greater. “In the UK, bureaucracy, immigration targets and red tape can be just as effective as keeping families apart as cages”.

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U.K. Court Can Dissolve a Muslim Marriage, Judge Rules

Yesterday, the High Court ruled that a Muslim husband and wife married under Islamic ceremony (Nikah) could divorce under UK laws. This has a huge impact on Muslims living in the UK, particularly women. For many years, campaigners such as myself and many others, have fought to have our Nikah only marriages recognised by the law as valid marriages. However, previously, the only status of such a union was considered ‘co-habitation’ and therefore the ‘wife’ had no rights to make any claims against the ‘husband’s’ assets or claim financial support. All this has now changed because of the yesterday’s ruling.

The court recognised that the relationship between Nasreen Akhtar and Mohammed Shabaz Khan was that of a married couple- although Mr Khan had claimed it wasn’t, primarily to protect his financial assets accumulated during the marriage while also negating the chance of being forced to pay ongoing financial support by the courts. Under the ruling, Mr Khan will now have to disclose the full extent of his assets, as well as pay his former wife ongoing payments in line with the legal rulings on marriages recognised in U.K. civil laws.

Prominent women’s rights campaigners have applauded the judge’s decision. Gina Khan, a campaigner for ‘One Law for All, wrote ‘We need to work towards ending these sharia courts. ‘They (mullahs and imams) allowed the practice of polygamy to be normalised & then charged extortionate amounts for a piece of paper that is not legally recognised and making money out of the plight of Muslim women seeking divorce from controlling men.

One Civil marriage, one nikah- this needs to be law in line with all other religions in the UK.’

Nina, who herself was left penniless after her husband married and divorced her under Islamic law, stated: ‘For too long, men who have wanted to protect their assets have coerced women into Nikah only marriages. It has also been a major loophole for legitimised polygamy in the U.K. In all cases, women & children lose out. I’m over the moon at the outcome of this case, & hope Parliament will now initiate change in the law which must be victim led.’

The actual impact of yesterday’s ruling going forward is yet to be assessed- and perhaps it has thrown up more questions than answers: will UK courts recognise Islamic nikahs during divorce proceedings only and if so, what about the rights of the wife during the course of the marriage? Will this ruling apply retrospectively to the many hundreds of thousands of Muslim couples who have married under sharia law only?

Another case that is currently being considered by the Court of Appeal is Lachaux v Lachaux- and the judgment could again be a game changer for Muslim women married under sharia laws. In the judgement, the judge ruled that the divorce obtained under Dubai’s sharia based laws (where the couple were living at the time of the divorce) was valid and in accordance with internationally recognised good practice despite the fact that Mrs Lachaux had no idea she was being divorced and that proceedings had nearly concluded by the time she found out.

So do these recent landmark rulings in UK’s family court proceedings mean that UK judges are becoming more favourable to recognising sharia rulings? Time will tell.

In the meantime, we are yet to know if an appeal will be lodged in this case, and on what grounds. Until then, we should celebrate the fact that we, as Muslim women, have achieved a very significant milestone towards gender equality in divorce proceedings.

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Muslim women & sexuality: still a touchy subject

The post below, discussing Muslim women and their sexuality appeared on my Facebook timeline this evening:

VIBRATORS FOR MUSLIM WOMEN?

A sister posted a pitiful missive stating she had better get married to anyone who asked for obvious reasons, as we are bid as women to 1) stay chaste when single, 2) not marry anything but a Muslim man (even if there aren’t any to marry, figure that out).   So I said to her, perhaps in a cavalier or even weary way, “Get a vibrator, and stay out of bad marriages that are just for sex.” It only took a few minutes for the ignorant Muslim trolls to start gathering while she demurely stood back and let them spew hatred, and even threats at me for suggesting that she take her life, and pleasure into her own hands so to speak.  The Quran allows for women’s pleasure, though it clearly says in marriage, if you aren’t married, what do you do? In the Prophets time, women were married of at young ages, and sexual dis-satisfaction was reason for divorce, even then women didn’t put up with poorly performing males.  Vibrators and dildoes were widely used throughout the Middle east, they have been found in archeological digs, some museums have collection of them, and it didn’t miss what is now the Muslim majority countries.  Muslim women once again, let me down.  All over the internet male Imam’s talk about what is allowed for women.  Women need to demand they step away from discussions about their needs and let them do it.

The author of the post, herself a Muslim woman, had made a suggestion that a Muslim woman use a vibrator. She was then subjected to a barrage of attacks & criticisms over her stance on the controversial subject, mainly, she says, from Muslim men.

So why do we, as an Ummah, have such entrenched views on Muslim women and their sexuality. It is almost inconceivable for some men to accept that Muslim women not only have a sex drive but can also enjoy sex, and anyone who suggests otherwise is quickly shut down with various choice words.

Take another example I came across on Twitter tonight:

Again, similar language & attitudes employed to make a muslim woman feel unclean and dirty for having or indeed wanting a sex life.

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