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Originally published in the Independent.
Inside drab terraced housing, with a plentiful supply of tea and biscuits, a parallel British legal system is in operation.
This is the view of Machteld Zee, a Dutch researcher who gained unprecedented access to sharia courts in London and Birmingham that she believes conduct their work “in the shadow of the law”.
Zee will launch her book at an event organised by libertarian think-tank, the Henry Jackson Society, in the Houses of Parliament on 12 January. She is calling on the British government to introduce new laws to help women access the criminal and civil courts for religious divorce, as in the Netherlands, where in 2010 Dutch-Pakistani woman Shirin Musa won a precedent-setting civil case.