- Cross-bench peer Baroness Cox spoke at the House of Lords yesterday
- Told of how Muslim men in some communities are having up to 20 kids
- These children may subsequently be 'vulnerable to extremism', she said
- Men are 'divorcing wives by simply writing '"I divorce you" three times'
- Baroness Cox said a loophole in the Equality Act was allowing Sharia courts to discriminate against women - and said change was needed
Muslim men in some communities in Britain are having up to 20 children each with multiple wives under Sharia law, potentially leaving the youngsters 'vulnerable to extremism', peers warn.
Cross-bench peer Baroness Cox said yesterday the men's behavior is creating 'dysfunctional families' - with some divorcing their wives by simply saying or writing 'I divorce you' three times.
She also gave a number of 'shocking examples' of how the Islamic legal system 'discriminates' against Muslim women, whom she said needed better protection under equality legislation.
Warning: Muslim men in some communities in Britain are having up to 20 children each with multiple wives, potentially leaving the youngsters 'vulnerable to extremism', Baroness Cox (above) warned yesterday
Addressing the House of Lords, she said one woman had told her: 'I feel betrayed by Britain. I came here to get away from this and the situation is worse here than in the country I escaped from.'
Giving an example of the negative impact of Sharia law on Muslim females, Baroness Cox told of how a 63-year-old man ordered a gynaecologist to 'repair the hymen' of his 23-year-old wife.
This was so the woman could remarry another Pakistani man so he could obtain a visa, she said, adding that the unemployed husband stood to earn 'about £10,000 for effecting this arrangement'.
The gynaecologist refused to carry out the illegal surgery.
In response, the man, who lives near London, became 'intensely angry', Baroness Cox said.
'Such shocking cases surely cannot be allowed to continue,' she said.
'The rights of Muslim women and the rule of the law of our land must be upheld.'
Baroness Cox then spoke of how her Muslim friends had told her that in some communities in the UK 'with high polygamy and divorce rates, men may have up to 20 children each'.
'Clearly, youngsters growing up in dysfunctional families may be vulnerable to extremism, she said.
She added that 'demography may affect democracy'.
In another example of how Muslim women need greater protection, Baroness Cox told the story of 'Roma' - not her real name - who suffered physical abuse at the hands of her Pakistani husband.
She 'did everything possible to avoid a divorce' out of fear of being rejected by her community - but when her husband failed to obtain a visa to enter Britain, he divorced her under Islamic law.
He did so by sending her a piece of paper featuring the words 'I divorce you' three times, she said.
Baroness Cox said a loophole in the Equality Act was allowing Sharia courts to discriminate against women - and said her Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill would help protect them.
The bill 'will strengthen the position of vulnerable women who need protection from exploitation. It will ensure that all such women, whatever sect or creed, get the help they need to enjoy full lives'.
She added that she had been told 'thousands of Muslim women' are backing her bill.
According to Baroness Cox, around 100,000 couples in Britain are currently in Islamic marriages that are not recognised by English law, leaving them at a legal disadvantage.
Cross-bench peer Baroness Deech supported the bill, saying: 'Equality is what the bill is all about... we must not tolerate the sweeping of violence against women or children under the carpet by any religion in the name of faith.'
Lord Green of Deddington, who is chairman of MigrationWatch, meanwhile, told peers that British society is 'entirely different' to that of Muslim countries, and 'those who come must accept that'.
Lord Sheikh emphasised that 'Sharia councils do not obstruct or attempt to influence proceedings where issues such as domestic violence are concerned.'
He added that 'there is widespread concern' that the bill 'seeks to demonise Muslims... by giving an incorrect impression of our values'.
And Justice Minister Lord Faulks said that there are already protections in existing UK legislation.