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Feb 03 2013

One Law for All statement on Jewish court

Below is One Law for All’s Statement on High Court Beth Din Case:

A High Court judge in London last week approved the decision of a Beth Din Council in New York.

The anonymous couple were in dispute over access to children and asked the High Court judge to agree to allow them to refer their case to the Beth Din Council in New York. In agreeing to allow this, the judge referred to a speech by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in which he described the adoption of sharia in family matters as “inevitable”.

Mr Justice Baker said: “The outcome was in keeping with English law, whilst achieved by a process rooted in Jewish culture to which the families belong.” He also stipulated that the husband must give his wife a Get – a Jewish divorce. The power to grant a Get is in the husband’s hands only and represents yet another example of anti-woman gender discrimination inherent in religious legal systems. Given that the power of divorce rests with the husband only, Mr Justice Baker should have recognised that this is not in keeping with English law – it is entirely discriminatory.

A Telegraph report stated that ‘The judge approved the Get given by the New York Beth Din after establishing that it would be accepted by all rabbinical courts and orthodox synagogues around the world’. In effect, this means that if a ruling is acceptable to religion, it is therefore acceptable in law.

This ruling sets a dangerous precedence which places religious misogyny in high esteem. At a time when international human rights law is increasingly recognising and opposing the anti human rights rhetoric put forward by many religious authorities, the UK High Court should be following suit and not going in a backwards direction by adhering to religious laws.

Gender discrimination is wrong – both in law and in natural justice – and this remains the case whether it is reinforced by religion or agreed to by the person being discriminated against. People are free to live their lives as they wish, but the state should not under any circumstances give credence or credibility to gender discrimination, or adopt it in to law.

One Law for All reiterates that a single secular and human rights based legal system must be adhered to in order to protect the rights of the religious and non-religious alike.

11 comments

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  1. 1
    robert heggie

    Very much agree with this. Religious “law” should have no place in a civilised society.

  2. 2
    Frank Bath

    Is there to be an over ruling? There had better be or the rest of the religious nuts will be marching in the streets demanding their ‘rights’.

  3. 3
    Nick Malik

    Nonsense. Courts have the right to appoint mediators in cases of property and child custody disputes. These mediators have to be people that both parties respect in order to achieve a settlement that both find fair. Courts around the world accept mediation from non-court-officers if that person is acceptable to the parties. For the UK court to accept the settlement proposed by the Jewish court, the judge is reviewing the recommendation and finding that it fits within the laws of the country. UK law still applies. This is important. The judge heard a recommendation, checked that the laws applied, modified it as needed, and issued a ruling. That is good jurisprudence.

    1. 3.1
      Maryam Namazie

      Child protection must take precedence over religious laws. Under Sharia for example child custody goes to the father at a preset age irrespective of the welfare of the child. We need to ensure that child welfare and not religious doctrine are held paramount. The only way to do that is to keep religious laws out. Arbitration has never been meant for family and criminal aspects of the law. It is accepted primarily because its victims are minority women and children. What ever happened to equal rights and child protection and welfare laws. Only applies to certain children and women? Scandalous!

  4. 4
    Janet

    Depressing that the judge referred to the archbishop’s acceptance of sharia law as “inevitable”. Next time someone else will refer to this judge’s decision as well. And so precedents get set in stone. Bad news.

  5. 5
    Comtessa de Metoncula

    As long as we have all male Judges, we will have such outcomes..
    Sharia Law should be outlawed in the UK and in all western countries that do not have a Theocracy.
    It has no place in our society!

  6. 6
    Martyn

    @ Comtessa. No. 5.

    I agree with what you say about religious law completely, but you cannot blame male privelege this time. Oh no. There has been no end of women – including feminists – who have sold other women and children down the river in the name of culture relativism.

    Here’s Germaine Greer on FGM: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/535488.stm

  7. 7
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    Not a fan of either Jewish or Muslim (or any other – including Christian) religious laws in society.

    One law for all, whatever religion, whatever status…

  8. 8
    Rasha Taus

    Just retweeted the article. Whereas I am and will remain a staunch supporter of Israel and may be relied upon NOT to be party to the Left-Liberal`polite’ anti-Semitism du jour, as a progressive woman I will support every endeavour to keep our laws free of ALL religious imprimantur.

    I have signed every one of Mariam Namazie’s online petitions, and will continue to do so in this fight.
    Best wishes
    Rasha

    1. 8.1
      Maryam Namazie

      Not sure what being a staunch supporter of Israel has to do with it. And why being opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine is considered polite anti-Semitism? It reminds me of the arguments made in support of Sharia – those who oppose are deemed to be guilty of Islamophobia which is equated with anti-Muslim bigotry. I believe in Israel’s right to exist but I also believe in the right to Palestinians to have a state of their own. But why is this relevant to a discussion on religious courts? By the way, thanks for signing petitions.

  9. 9
    mahapara

    aise cheap thinking rakhne wale logo ko talibaan refer kr dena chahiye, inhe kya haq banta h kisi ke khilaf decison lene ka, kisi ke dreams aur career ban ne phle hi usko destroy karne ka kaun hain ye waulana mufti Islam ko badnaam karnewale aur dhram ke naam par womens ko aage na badhne dene wale. Mujhe ye sab sunkar bhut bad feel hua aur ho raha h un masoomo par kya guzri hogi. Hum muslim hone ke sath-sath hindustani bhi hain aur hame apne tareeke se rehne ka, profession karne ka right h aur ye right hame hamare watan ke constitution se mila hua h, hum talibani nahi hain jo 14th century mein jeete rahein. Hamari goverment ko iss sabke against kadam uthana chahiye aur muslmaan kaum ko bhi.

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