I kind of let this pass by before (I was kind of off getting married, so sue me):

The Times – Sharia courts are extending their reach<br/> The longer we acquiesce in the spread of Islamic law in Britain, the more it will happen, by Stephen Pollard

Sharia may not be enshrined in English law, but the real impact of Sharia is just as worrying.

If two parties agree to be bound by an arbitrator – a Sharia court, for instance – that is their business. But what if community pressure forces their acceptance? In one recent inheritance dispute Sharia judges gave the sons twice as much as the daughters. In English law, the shares would have been equal. We do not know what pressures were put on the women to accept the ruling. Peer pressure can be overpowering. And the very point of Western freedoms is to protect people against such unjust pressures.

But arbitration over property disputes is one thing; assault, however, is a matter for the criminal law. Yet Sharia courts have dealt with at least six cases of domestic violence in which they simply ordered the assailants to take anger management classes and to talk to community elders. The female victims then withdrew the complaints they had made to the police. They were thus forced to accept the primacy of an unjust religious law over the law of the land. And if you believe that the victims were not coerced by peer pressure into withdrawing their complaints, then you also believe in flying pigs.

Sharia courts have not been granted powers by the State to deal with criminal behaviour. But in ensuring that the victims’ complaints were withdrawn, they took de facto control. This, clearly, is the means by which Sharia will extend its reach. And the longer we acquiesce in it, the longer that reach will be.

As RC2 said at the time:

I’d like to know what steps are taken to ensure women know they don’t have to agree to sharia, however. And I’d like to know whether the courts have the power to recognize polygamous marriages. Smells like the abandonment of women and of the principle of equality before the law…although I am prepared to be persuaded otherwise.

I’m not so prepared:

The argument that women will only have to enter these courts if they freely choose to shows a near-total disconnection from the reality of Muslim women’s lives. Most of the women who will be drawn into “consenting” are, like Nasirin, recent immigrants with little idea of their legal options. Then there are the threats of excommunication – or violence – from some families. As the Muslim feminist Irshad Manji puts it: “When it comes to contemporary sharia, choice is theory; intimidation is the reality.”

And:

Picture the life of a young Urdu-speaking woman brought to Yorkshire from Pakistan to marry a man—quite possibly a close cousin—whom she has never met. He takes her dowry, beats her, and abuses the children he forces her to bear. She is not allowed to leave the house unless in the company of a male relative and unless she is submissively covered from head to toe. Suppose that she is able to contact one of the few support groups that now exist for the many women in Britain who share her plight. What she ought to be able to say is, “I need the police, and I need the law to be enforced.” But what she will often be told is, “Your problem is better handled within the community.” And those words, almost a death sentence, have now been endorsed and underwritten—and even advocated—by the country’s official spiritual authority.

Right. So, anyway. Not so prepared.