UK Labour Party Muslims Block Muslim Women from Election
Thu, February 18, 2016
Screenshot from BBC's Newsnight.
Earlier this month Muslim Women’s Network UK, a support network for Muslim women in Britain, demanded an inquiry into “systematic misogyny displayed by significant numbers of Muslim male local councillors" affiliated with the Labour party.
"They don't like women to be heard, to be empowered," the group told the BBC night-time program, Newsnight.
Of course, the Labour Party initially dismissed the accusations, stating it had the best record of any of the parties in selecting female and ethnic-minority candidates.
But, despite the Labour’s claims, Muslim women have broken their silence about their experiences regarding the matter.
One such woman, Fozia Parveen, an optician, claims her efforts to become a Labour councillor in Birmingham in 2008 was halted by men within the party.
“At the time, I was aware of a smear campaign against me,” she said. “They said that I was having an affair with one of the existing councillors.”
She also said Muslim men from the local party told her mother to stop her from pursuing the position.
View the Newsnight report:
Another woman, Shazia Bashir, was the first choice for Labour in a seat in Peterborough in 2007. She claims when her father decided not to support her in her pursuit, Muslim men from the Labour Party made her step aside. They deny this claim.
Shaista Gohir, from MWNUK, told Newsnight the tight-knit patriarchal communities operate a system of clan politics known as biradari, in which votes are delivered in blocks, thereby successfully preventing any Muslim woman from becoming a councillor.
The Leicester Mercury, brought to attention some upsetting consequences of this situation: “It is frightening to think vulnerable women in these areas have no representation, and may be reluctant to access support in sensitive cases of female genital mutilation and domestic violence.”
Two days after the Labour party had dismissed the accusations, a source within the party told The Guardian the head of the party, Jeremy Corbyn, will look carefully at the accusations and respond to MWNUK in due time.
One can only hope Corbyn will do just that, and perhaps help to break down the factions of Muslim men that exist within his party who have been acting as impenetrable obstacles for Muslim women looking to become councillors. If not, those women in these communities who face atrocities like genital mutilation will continue to go without adequate representation.