Domestic Abuse and Equality of Women Before the Law - May 2017

The Foundation in association with Imams Against Domestic Abuse and East London Mosque held a very successful seminar at Maryam Centre, East London mosque. The opening remarks were given by Dilowar Khan, Executive Director of the mosque. He welcomed the speakers and particularly Joseph Interfaith Foundation the organisers of the seminar who has been cooperating with the mosque on Muslim-Jewish Interfaith relations for several years. He said “Domestic abuse happens in all religions and none as well as all the strata of the society. We are pleased at ELM to be at the forefront of bringing this issue to the attention of the community and supporting the women”

A distinguished panel of speakers addressed the audience of men and women on different aspects of the topic. Mehri Niknam, Executive Director of the Foundation chaired the seminar. She thanked the mosque for generously hosting the seminar. She said “Our interfaith relations with the mosque have been very fruitful, particularly in relation to our National Council of Imams and Rabbis. We look forward to our continued cooperation.”

Sufia Alam the manager of Maryam Centre who has worked extensively and actively as a professional to empower women in the community was the first speaker. She gave an informative talk about the challenges faced by the Muslim community in relation to domestic abuse. She spoke about the worrying effect of domestic abuse on children. She said “Now that we have given confidence to women who are abused to talk about it, the next step is how to address and confront it”.

Joanne Greenway, the first ever women’s advocate at the Chief Rabbi’s Bet Din spoke next. She spoke about domestic abuse in the Jewish community, how difficult it is for women to admit in public that they are the victim of it, and how the community is confronting it. She said “Women’s abuse happens across all communities and by denying that it happens in our community too, we are allowing it to continue.” She discussed the significance of her role and how important it is to have a woman’s perspective at religious courts. She said it empowers the women victims and informs the judges at the Bet Din.

Imam Abdullah Hasan who is one of the founders and directors of the Imams Against Domestic Abuse spoke powerfully in defence of women’s dignity in Islam and equality before the Creator. He said “the so called laws that erroneously assumed to be Islamic are cultural customs in different countries and have nothing to do with Islam.” He gave numerous quotes from the Qur’an that are prohibiting violence against women and enjoins the Muslims to respect mothers, wives and daughters. He said “We must follow the example of the Prophet according to authoritative Hadith and Tradition in our behaviour. Furthermore, we must follow the interpretation of the laws in the Qur’an according to authoritative jurisprudence and hermeneutics.”

The final speaker was Mizan Abdul Raouf, lawyer who specialises in family law including Islamic Law, and non-molestation injunction proceedings involving domestic violence. He began by explaining the equality of all before the Law in this country regardless of colour, creed, gender or race. He gave clear examples of legal cases of domestic abuse and domestic violence and how the women’s equal right before the law is maintained. He said “It is the duty of the judges at the Shari’ah Court to explain the rights of women to them. This does not always happen”. He spoke passionately and professionally about legal ways to confront domestic abuse within the Muslim community”.

There followed to long and Q & A sessions when issues such as honour killing, forced marriage, illegal marriages in this country, non-documented marriages, and domestic abuse against men were discussed.

The audience found the seminar extremely useful and informative. They asked for further seminars in the subject to be arranged.