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Talk - Equal & Free? Sharia Law & Other Failures Concerning UK Women & Children

The Central London Humanists are pleased to welcome Baroness Cox and Anne Marie Waters to speak about their findings regarding the experiences of Muslim women living in Britain today, which led to Baroness Cox introducing a private members bill into the House of Lords.

Baroness Cox became deeply concerned by the knowledge that many women and girls in this country are suffering from gender discrimination, often associated with polygamy and domestic violence.

She has sat with oppressed and abused women from communities which foster discrimination, here in the UK, and wept with them as they told their stories.

In an attempt to highlight this unacceptable situation and to alleviate the suffering of these women and girls, she introduced a private members Bill, The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill, into the House of Lords June 2011.

Her bill has received an encouraging response. Andrew Brown in The Guardian said the Bill is a “thoroughly good thing and a skilled piece of politics”. The founder of the Muslim Women’s Network UK, who has long claimed that Muslim women in Britain suffer from fewer rights than in many Islamic countries, welcomed the Bill.

Supported by Anne Marie Watersfrom One Law for All Baroness Cox will discuss the urgent need for her bill and the evidence backing it in the briefing Equal And Free? They will address both women’s and children’s rights under Sharia Law in the UK today.

The report ‘Equal and Free?’provides evidence of the problems and suffering of Muslim women in Britain today, including: condoning of domestic violence by Sharia courts and councils; asymmetrical access to divorce; rulings regarding child custody that ignore the best interests of the child; discriminatory policies defining the testimonies of women as being only worth half that of men; and the denial of the concept of marital rape.

The United Kingdom has a long and cherished tradition of equality before the law and a current commitment to the eradication of gender discrimination.

However, there is growing concern over the emergence of a ‘quasi-legal’ system operating in parallel with our own which violates the principles of equality before the law and which is based on religiously sanctioned gender discrimination.

Many Muslim women claim they came to Britain hoping to escape the injustice of Sharia law and found their plight is worse here than in their countries of origin.

The injustice inherent in religiously sanctioned discrimination is often compounded by intimidation: pressure from families and communities often prevents women from seeking their legal redress available in civil law.

Door at 6.30 pm for talk at 7.00 p.m.

Please arrive early to have a glass of wine from our CLHG Charity Wine Bar find your seat and chat with other members.

Donations to the wine bar will go the Iranian & Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation a charity chosen by Caroline & Anne Marie.

All our talks are open to the general public and free to attend but we ask those who can to make a donation of what they can afford to cover the costs of room and equipment hire and help keep our talks free to all.

Baroness (Caroline) Cox was created a Life Peer in 1982 and was a deputy speaker of the House of Lords from 1985 to 2005.  She was Founder Chancellor of Bournemouth University; Chancellor of Liverpool Hope University from[masked] and is an Hon. Vice President of the Royal College of Nursing.   She was a founder Trustee of MERLIN [Medical Emergency Relief International] and is Chief Executive of HART [Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust].

Caroline Cox has been honoured with the Commander Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland; the Wilberforce Award; the International Mother Teresa Award from the All India Christian Council; the Mkhitar Gosh Medal conferred by the President of the Republic of Armenia; and the anniversary medal presented by Lech Walesa.  She has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and Honorary Doctorates by universities in the United Kingdom, the United States of Amercia, the Russian Federation and Armenia.

Her humanitarian work takes her to conflict zones, including the Armenian enclave of Nagorno Karabakh, Sudan, Nigeria, Uganda, the Karen, Karenni, Shan and Chin peoples of Burma. Previously, she visited communities suffering from conflict in Indonesia, helping to establish the International Islamic Christian Organisation for Reconciliation and Reconstruction (IICORR) with late former President Abdurrhaman Wahid.  She has visited North Korea to promote Parliamentary initiatives and medical programmes.

Recent publications include Cox’s Book of Modern Saints and Martyrs (with Catherine Butcher) 2006; This Immoral Trade: Slavery in the 21st Century with John Marks and The Very Stones Cry Out, The Persecuted Church: Pain, Passion and Praisewith Benedict Rogers.

Two biographies have been published by Monarch/Lion Hudson: The Baroness Cox: Voice for the Voiceless,by Andrew Boyd and The Baroness Cox: Eyewitness to a Broken World by Lela Gilbert.


Anne Marie Waters is spokesperson for One Law for All. She campaigns against Sharia and religious Laws as she believes they represent a sacrifice of the rights of women in the name of legal and cultural relativism.

She is a law graduate with a strong interest in family law and human rights, and the interaction of the two. She has written various papers and articles on secularism, the rights of women in family law, and on human rights internationally. 

She is a council member and campaigner for the National Secular Society, and campaigns more broadly for gender and race equality.

She also writes and speaks on the importance of trade unionism, democracy, and Government and public sector accountability.”



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  • Kieron

    I've heard these speakers before, so would highly recommend this event.

    October 15, 2013

  • Goranka G.

    Can we bring friends? I have two who are interested in coming.

    October 15, 2013

    • Baptiste B.

      Yes of course! No problem at all. If you want you can update your rsvp and add two guests.

      1 · October 15, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Would love to attend but have a lecture that evening.

    August 25, 2013

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