The findings of an independent legal scholar, who had gained access to Sharia courts in Britan, revealed the religious councils are binding women into "marital captivity" instead of helping them get out of troubled marriages.
In Sharia law, a woman needs to appeal to the court as men can verbally divorce women by pronouncing "I divorce you". Women appeal to the religious court as countries that follow Sharia law wouldn't accept a divorce given in a civil court.
The researcher, Machteld Zee, a legal scholar at Leiden University in the Netherlands, attended 15 hours of Sharia courts at the Islamic Sharia Council in Leyton, east London, and the Birmingham Central Mosque Sharia in July 2013.
She presents the Birmingham court in a positive light, reporting that the qadis or judges at the Sharia council there abide by the British law, and said they "live as British citizens and accept the laws of the land".
The London council, however, was shocking, as women who wanted to divorce their husbands were not permitted do so even when the husbands had taken out loans of large sums on their names, and asked for money to be divorced.
Zee writes in her book "Choosing Sharia? Multiculturalism, Islamic Fundamentalism and British Sharia Councils", that: "In a toxic mix of religious fundamentalism, culture and tight-knit communities, Sharia councils uphold the theory and practice of the strong hold men have over women."
"Sharia councils may 'help' women who want a divorce, but it is a solution to a problem they fuel and one they seek to preserve. Moreover, that religious divorces are Sharia councils' 'core business' does not in the least bit mean they are actually willing to help women obtain one. In fact, they are known to frustrate women in their requests, especially if the husband is unwilling to cooperate."
The Islamic councils strongly rejected her reports about the courts. "We certainly don't condone domestic violence or force women to go back: We are there to get women out of religious marriages," said Khola Hasan, a scholar at the Islamic Sharia Council in London.
The researcher presents the argument that Muslim women should be allowed to go to the civil court if religious councils fail to facilitate them like the Dutch law.
The book is to be released on 12 January and the findings will be presented in the Houses of Parliament, reported the Independent.