Women and Shari’a Law: The Impact of Legal Pluralism in the UK

Elham Manea | I.B.Tauris (UK) |

Women and Shari’a Law: The Impact of Legal Pluralism in the UK is a critique of a paradigm that calls for the introduction of Islamic law in Western legal systems as a means of accommodating Muslim minorities. The book is about:

  • The actual experience of legal pluralism in Britain and ‘non-Western countries’ and their negative consequences;
  • The type of Islamic law being applied by way of this ‘method of conflict resolution’, which contravenes concepts of gender equality and human rights;
  • The social context of closed communities within which this law is being implemented – where both young women and men are subjected to a suffocating social control;
  • And the role played by political Islam in promoting Islamic law in non-Islamic societies.

Building on my knowledge of legal pluralism in Middle Eastern and Islamic countries, I researched the British case, visited Islamic sharia councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunal in various British cities and met their leading sheiks, including the only woman on those panels. I also interviewed experts, lawyers, activists in civil society and women’s rights groups, especially from within the Muslim communities, in addition to politicians who are pleading for a reform of this ‘model’. The outcome is a book that highlights the negative consequences of introducing ‘special laws’ for ‘specific groups’.


About Elham Manea

Elham Manea is an Associate Professor of Middle East Studies at Zurich University. Manea is also a writer and human rights activist. She has published academic and non-fiction books in English, German, and Arabic as well as two novels in Arabic. Her latest book is "Women and Shari'a Law – The impact of legal pluralism in the UK". In addition to her position at the University of Zurich, she is a consultant for a number of Swiss government agencies and international human rights organisations. In 2010 the Swiss Federal Council appointed her as a Member of the Federal Commission for Women Affairs - a position she still holds today.

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