Muslim marriage in the U.K: Why there’s concern for women

Following the Channel 4 Documentary The Truth About Muslim Marriage, there has been a raised awareness over the issue of many Muslim marriages in the UK failing to be recognised under British law.

A lot of Muslim marriages in the UK are Nikah only, meaning the couple have only had the spiritual ceremony and their marriage is only recognised in the eyes of Islam; not the law. This is leaving many Muslim women in tough situations if they choose to divorce their husband as under British law, they are only seen as cohabitees – not husband and wife.

“”Muslim women do not feel able to ask for a legally binding ceremony, or even a divorce, from their husband.”

Melanie Webb is a family law solicitor who has had experience in dealing with Islamic marriages in Sharia Law and the impact it can have on women in the UK. She said, “If the Muslim couple had the Islamic Marriage in this country, this is not legally binding and is therefore a huge concern for women.

“Sharia Law does not offer the same rights and status to a wife as it does to a husband. In Sharia Law, a husband has more rights over marital assets including property, investments, pensions etc, not to mention that the husband has more rights than the wife in respect of the care for their children.”

In the UK, if a husband and wife are going through a divorce both the man and woman are treated equally in regard to their finances, children and so on; most judges will try to split the couple’s assets 50/50.

According to the research conducted by those on the Channel 4 documentary, 60.1% of the 923 Muslim women questioned did not have a civil ceremony as well as a Nikah ceremony meaning 3 out of 5 of those women are not married in the eyes of the law. 28.2% did not know they were not legally married.

Zamzam Ibrahim, a 23-year-old muslim and President of the Student’s Union for Salford University said, “Because it is currently not mandatory in the UK for Muslim couples to have a civil service, people don’t do it. Some will feel that because their marriage is recognised in the eyes of God, it doesn’t matter if it is recognised by the Government as well.

“I think it’s incredibly important for women to make sure they’re protected and to look after themselves – by not having a civil service as well, women are putting themselves at risk.”

60.1% of 923 married Muslim women asked did not have a civil ceremony

In Melanie’s experience, she has found many Muslim women do not feel able to ask for a legally binding ceremony, or even a divorce, from their husband due to the fear of the repercussions from the local community. 78% of those surveyed by Channel 4 researchers said they want their marriages to be legally recognised.

For any Muslim women looking to get a divorce from a marriage that is not recognised by British Law, Melanie advised to seek help from a family law specialist. She said, “By speaking to a specialist they can establish whether they have any rights under property law, for example, that may be explored. We would also suggest that they seek advice from the Sharia Council who can also offer advice and potentially practical support in respect of the breakdown of the relationship.”


GBBO’s Selasi talks all things Bake Off

Selasi Gbormittah won over the hearts of the nation last year in BBC’s final Great British Bake Off. With his cool and collected attitude he was bound to be one to be remembered. I had a chance to chat to him about this year’s Bake Off and what he has in store…

Did you watch this year’s bake off? If so, what did you think of it?

“I thought it was good! They kept the format and everyone at home seems to have gotten used to the adverts, whether that means they can go make a cup of tea or get a piece of cake. It was interesting because they made a lot of technical challenges a lot more difficult, it was watching like, ‘Oooo, I’m actually learning something new’. Pru is great and she also knows her stuff – she’s a good replacement [to previous judge Mary Berry]. The presenters are good replacements as well.”

How did you feel being the last BBC Great British Bake Off?

“It’s good to be the last BBC lot because I have that legacy to go off. I think it kind of helped out profiles as well because there was a lot of talk about selling the show and changing the presenters so we are, and always will be, grateful for that. It’s good to see people actually enjoy the show for what it is. People love a disaster!”

Have you enjoyed everything that’s been happening since you’ve left the show?

“I’ve enjoyed it massively. I’ve still got my day job so I don’t know how I fit it all in – I’ve done a lot festivals like the Christmas Ideal Home Show. I’ve been running around doing the shows, campaigning for brands, taking time off work and all that – it’s been a great year. I’m doing what I enjoy, I love cooking and baking.”

What are you up to at the moment?

“It’s been a busy year! I’ve partnered with a few brands to do a few campaigns. I did a pop up bakery with deliveroo a couple of months ago which went well! Hopefully we will do a few more of those soon. I’ve got a few things planned for next year, which I’m not allowed to say just yet.”

You will be seeing Selasi’s delightful face on screen once again as he returns to the tent for Great Christmas Bake Off which will be aired next month on Channel 4. You’ll also see some more familiar faces such as Val Stones from series 7 and Paul Jagger who’s best known for his lion bread sculpture in series 6. 

Putting my mental health first

Everyone goes through good and bad times in their life, whether this be due to work load, relationships or family, but sometimes it’s important to take a step back from it all and give yourself a chance to breathe.

In recent weeks you will have seen I have been doing a ‘transformation’ with my local gym – unfortunately this has come to an end earlier than planned. Along with my commitment to the twelve week transformation, I am a third year university student with deadlines on the horizon, I have a part time job at a bar, I am the chair of the netball committee for the university, have been doing a two week work placement and have had several events on recently, including my own 21st birthday. Due to having so much on my plate, it was safe to say I was slowly drowning.

Everyone deals with things in different ways. Stress is my worst enemy; as many of you may know I have an anxiety disorder which is the best of friends with stress. Whilst one person may be able to stack their cards all the way to the top without crumbling, another person may only get to the second level and see it all come crashing down – for me it’s sometimes a struggle to get it to the first level, never mind the second.

Due to stress and anxiety, some days I was unable to leave my bed (shout out to my house mate Kath who physically dragged me out of bed in to university one day). I’d sit there with the feeling of the weight of the world on my shoulders – so cripplingly heavy I’d find myself unable to move and unable to think straight.

In the last week, two of my commitments have halted: work (due to my work placement temporarily taking priority) and my commitment to the ‘transformation’ with PureGym and I’ve felt like I can breathe again. I’ve not felt numb with stress, and I haven’t been breaking into tears on a daily basis. This is evidence to show sometimes it’s important to take a step back and to think what can be put on hold whilst you get your head straight.

For now, I may be a little bit poor and a little bit chunky but I’m happier than I have been in a good few weeks. Admitting you’re struggling doesn’t mean your weak, it means your human.



Week 5 of my ‘transformation’

So, commencing week 5 of my personal training sessions with Pure Gym and I’m knackered. Health and lifestyle blogs will typically have a load of bullshit about how great they’re feeling and how they’re fit as ever, but this will be a more candid and honest representation…

I started this challenge at the same time I was beginning my third and final year of University, as well as working my part-time job at a bar and being chair of the netball committee so it’s fair to say I’ve put a lot of my plate. Along with that I suffer with anxiety which is best friends with stress, just to add to my worries. Why did I do this to myself you ask? I have no idea.

Working out is a fantastic stress buster and I would definitely be more stressed without it! You let it all out sprinting on the treadmill or squatting your personal best – so I’d advice anyone with anxiety or stress related issues to start hitting the gym. Getting a personal trainer like Chris is getting a councillor all in one as well – they’re there to make you feel the best version of yourself, physically and mentally.

My issue is food. Ok, you see Khloe Kardashian’s workouts on snapchat with her professional trainer but behind the scenes she probably has a high end chef to cook her whatever she wants and she can afford all the quinoa and kale she likes! A student like me cannot and I don’t always have the time to cook up a storm either – sometimes all I want to do is whack a curry in the microwave and get on my way (but the 900 calories a meal tell me to do otherwise).

Time and money isn’t my only issue relating to food. If you’ve had a long day at work, what’s the first thing you think about doing? Glass of wine? Takeaway? Chocolate? Yeah, I thought so. For me, if I’m stressed all I have to indulge on to cheer me up is an Alpen bar which just doesn’t work the same magic on my mood. Oh and then there’s all my friend’s 21st birthdays. Whilst they’re indulging on cake and wine, I’m there sipping a vodka Diet Coke wishing it was a glass of rosé the size of my head.

Actual training wise, it’s getting better but I find myself just wanting to be in bed when I’m there. If I had nothing else going on with my day I’d be totally up for it, ready and raring to go, but because I’m so tired I’m slightly lacking in motivation when I’m there. Despite this, Chris is great at giving me the kick up the arse that I need. He knows when I’m genuinely at “failure” compared to when I’m just not pushing hard enough which has assisted me in making some of the progress I have done.

Even though I am drowning in everything right now, seeing the beginnings of the changes I’ve been trying for keeps me going (especially when my boyfriend notices too!). I don’t just want to grind to a halt at the end of the 12 week period – I want to continue keeping up my fitness and staying in shape so I’m determined to get my head fully in the zone.




Week 1 of my 12 week ‘transformation’

After an amazing summer consisting of work experience in London, Manchester and Lancashire and two holidays, it was safe to say going to the gym was very low on my list of priorities. Whilst it was one of the best summers of my life, one thing wasn’t so great… my weight.

Being only 5ft 2.5 (the half means a lot, ok?) every pound gained shows and I found myself having to buy swimming costumes for the first time since being a child due to my lack of body confidence in a bikini; this is when I knew things needed to change. Luckily for me, an opportunity was given to me by Pure Gym in Salford (the gym I attend whilst at university) where I could get three months of free personal training for free due to a competition they were having. Obviously I said yes being a poor and out-of-shape student and this week was my first week of reality.

Starting off the week I went and did a healthy food shop cutting out all kinds of crap and saying goodbye to my dear friends wine, chips and chocolate. My trolly was filled with chicken, pork, veg and fruit and I was ready to take on this transformation.

My first training session with Chris was on Thursday and I walked into the gym knowing I was about to get annihilated. I spotted Chris on the steppers with the client he had before me and he shouted over, “You’re on here next!” and all I could think was, “f*ck.” Luckily, Chris went quite tame on me (well he seemed to think so anyway) for my first session knowing I’ve been out of play for a good few months. The weight exercises we did weren’t too much of a shock to the system, but the HIIT training he made me do was. 5 rounds later of sprinting on the spinning bike and 30 seconds on the ski machine I thought I was having a cardiac arrest and was sweating out of places I didn’t know I could sweat out of. I basically turned into a human jelly, but hey – I’ll be laughing in 12 weeks time, right?

Even after my second session today I’ve noticed my body is slowly but surely adapting to being active again. Luckily today’s HIIT session involved boxing therefore being able to punch Chris as revenge for all the hard work he’s putting me through – even though my punch is the equivalent of a small child’s at the moment.

Diet wise, it’s so far easier than I thought it would be for a chocoholic like myself. My tip is to just not buy in the things that will tempt you! Some of my meals have consisted of pork, rice and green beans and fish, mash and veg (all Aldi’s finest, of course). As great as  diet books like Lean in 15 are, am I the kind of person who can afford quinoa from Waitrose? Most definitely not. But don’t be disheartened, cheaper alternatives are always  available e.g. Aldi’s frozen lemon and herb battered bassa!

Watch this space for updates on how I’m getting on – pictures will follow once I stop looking like a human potato.

Is detox dieting a load of bullsh*t?

In recent years, everyone has become obsessed with ‘detoxing’ their bodies of toxins to become fitter and healthier versions of themselves – but the question is, is it a actually a load of crap?

Basically, yes. To continuously get rid of every single toxin in our body, we’d have to spend the majority of our lives on the toilet as that’s the main way to get rid of toxins. Toxins come from everywhere, from air pollution to food packaging to tap water; they’re pretty much inescapable. However, not all toxins are bad which commercial markets forget to remind you of so getting rid of all toxins could actually do your body more harm than good.

There are several celebrity endorsed brands like BooTea and FitTea who have the likes of Lucy Watson and Ashley Tisdale advertising them. Advertising these products to a large following of young, female instagrammers which could be detrimental as we are already living in a body obsessed world with 725,000 people in the uk having an eating disorder in 2015.

Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 20.56.47
Source: instagram @ashleytisdale

What the people who buy these commercialised “detox” diets do not know is that their bodies are already fully equipped to fight off bad toxins on their own. The human body is an amazing thing and with the help from the likes of our livers, kidneys and gastrointestinal systems we are perfectly fine battling off toxins by ourselves without having to spend ridiculous amounts of money on these detoxes (and ridiculous amounts of time on the toilet for that matter!).

Only 20% of dieting actually works. The majority of doctors will advise you to do the boring, old-fashioned technique of healthy eating, exercising more and eating smaller portions. With “detox” diets, they make it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients from the food were are ingesting because they’re going through our system too quickly as detox teas are a form of laxative. Due to this, it leads to people majorly lacking in energy because no energy has been absorbed so not only are you on the toilet all the time, you’re feeling pretty shitty too (pun intended). It’s extremely unlikely you will end up looking like the ridiculous toned and muscular girls who advertise these ‘teatoxes’ because you won’t actually have the energy to work out.

Linking to the laxative effect of the detox diets, it can often cause implications with taking the contraceptive pill. Many people have complained about getting pregnant whilst doing these diets despite taking their contraceptive pill like they usually would. The reason for this is, again, because it completely flushes everything out including your contraceptive pill! It isn’t that everyone one will become pregnant who does these diets, but it does massively increase your chances of accidentally doing so. Is shedding a few pounds worth accidentally getting pregnant? Nope.

Lastly, detox diets are all just a fad. You take them and yes, you shift a few pounds (that said shift, not shit) and you feel slimmer… but as soon as you stop taking the tea or juice or whatever it is, those pounds will just come back again.

In conclusion, these diets could make you feel rubbish, make you go to the toilet all the time, they don’t actually help you lose weight in the long term and could potentially make you pregnant with a baby you were not intending to have. Worth it? I think not.

Why we seriously need to talk about sun protection

With the UK seeing high temperatures in recent weeks and people’s summer holidays just around the corner, one thing that everyone’s looking to achieve is a gorgeous, glowing tan. With freckles on your nose and colour in your skin, you feel automatically more confident and more attractive; however people are failing to tan ‘safely’ with 15,419 cases of skin cancer in 2014.

One of those diagnosed in 2014 with skin cancer was Katie Greenall. Now 21, Katie was just 18-years-old when she was diagnosed with malignant melanoma – the most aggressive and life-threatening form of skin cancer. Despite never having used a sun bed or been badly burnt, Katie’s boyfriend noticed blood on her shirt where an usual looking mole was in the middle of her back. Within an hour of the Doctor seeing Katie’s mole, she was sent into surgery for it to be removed as soon as possible after realising it was cancerous. 82% of malignant melanoma cases in women are down to major lifestyle factors or other risk factors but unfortunately Katie fell into the 18% of people who got it “out of bad luck”.

Katie said, “I always thought it would never happen to me. When I went to the Doctors that day I was thinking, ‘It’s not going to be that’ – you don’t think it will ever happen to you. You’ve got to have that mind set of putting some sun cream on because it could happen to any of us.

“Skin cancer’s sort of pushed to the side. With breast cancer and stuff, they’re more in the spotlight – but cancer’s cancer no matter what it is, especially skin cancer as it’s the largest organ of your body.”

In 2014, there were 2,459 deaths in the UK due to skin cancer; luckily Katie’s was found early enough for the Doctors to successfully remove the cancerous mole before it spread to other parts of the body which malignant melanoma has a tendency to do.

“If no one noticed the blood on my shirt, I would not have known. I felt completely normal.”

There are two other main types of skin cancer which are more common than malignant melanoma; basal cell carcinoma (a cancer of the basal cells at the bottom of the epidermis) and squamous cell carcinoma (a cancer of the keratinocyte cells in the outer layer of the skin). Basal cell carcinoma is responsible for 75% of skin cancers. These types of cancers are typically caused by sun exposure as the UV rays damages the DNA in a persons skin cells. There’s also the issue of your tone of skin as those more fair skinned – blondes and red heads typically – are more at risk of sunburn. Getting sunburnt just once every 2 years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer. For more information and support, click here

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 12.30.20
Signs and symptoms to look for to make sure your moles/freckles and healthy and normal

Whilst the sun gives us vitamin D, which is an important part of the human body, it also gives off UV rays which can be seriously damaging . The chances of you getting burnt depend on the strength of the UV rays where you are. Throughout the UK today, the UV rays have been around 6 or 7 which is ‘high’ or ‘very high’ on the Met Office scale; click here to see for yourself. Cancer research advises that you protect your skin from the sun when the UV index is 3 or above. Another thing to take into account is that the sun’s UV rays are strongest between 11am and 3pm in the UK.

Whilst getting a tan is great and you think the horrendous sunburn you’ve got will “turn into a tan tomorrow” – is damaging your skin so severely for a tan worth tripling your risk of skin cancer? Sunburn doesn’t have to be as extreme as peeling or blistering, if the skin is pink or red, it is sunburnt. Sunburn can also cause premature ageing as well. Is it worth looking 10-years-older than you are just for the sake of a bit of colour to your skin?

When the weather is lovely, it is inevitable you will be wanting to go outside to sit in the sunshine which is fine as long as you enjoy the sun safely. Ways you can do this are as follows:

  • Spend time in the shade throughout the day, whether this be inside, under a parasol or in a tent
  • Cover yourself up for parts of the day with clothing, wear a hat to protect the face and head and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes – it’s possible (but very rare) that people get skin cancer in their eye as well as the skin
  • Sun cream! Make sure you put enough on, that you put it on frequently (even those “once a day” types), use it along side shade and clothing for ultimate protection and don’t store sun cream in hot places as the heat can ruin the creams protective chemicals

Glamour magazine has recently raved about these SPF friendly products (hover over the pictures for details):


So don’t be that idiot with a t-shirt tan line the colour of a tomato this summer. Enjoy the sun safely because life long damage isn’t worth a temporary tan.

A candid look at 30 years of marriage

In 2014, there were 111,169 divorces with the average marriage lasting 8 – 12 years. However, for Bev and Andrew Shackleton (my wonderful parents), last week marked their 30th wedding anniversary proving not all marriages end in divorce. 

After meeting at sixth form at the ages of 16, they went on to marry at the ages of 22 and 23 – my Mum is a cougar by six months. Before marrying, they endured a long distance relationship with my Dad studying in London and my Mum being home in Blackpool after she dropped out of Leeds university. In a time of no mobiles and internet – yeah, I know… there was once a time when everyone did not know what everyone was doing every second of every day – they still managed to remain a couple together despite the 247 (approximately) miles between them. They then went on to marry in 1987. So, in a society where divorce has become extremely common, I asked them how they’ve survived so long…

What were your toughest battles over the past 30 years and how did you overcome them?

Dad: “When we first married we were living in the Midlands in Birmingham and your Mum moved down there because I was there when she possibly didn’t really want to. It took your mother out of her comfort zone and just sort of pitched the two of us together as two 23 year olds in a new city and a new flat without the family support mechanism.”

I went on to ask how they coped as couple when my Mum became ill after giving birth to me and then my Grandma (her Mum) passing away from cancer a few months later:

Mum and dad
My parents in Spain, 2013

Mum: “It tends to make your relationship stronger. In the face of adversity you pull together and support each other more.”

I also asked how my Dad deals with my Mum suffering with anxiety as sometimes it can be difficult to take care of someone with mental health issues:

Dad: “You used to be worse than you are now [to my Mum]. It was honestly never an issue and never a cause of conflict. If you marry somebody, you marry that person. You take on board each persons’ strength and weaknesses – your mother takes on mine and I do hers.”

Mum: “I don’t think we were surprised by each other when we got married because we already knew each other very well so I don’t feel we went into a relationship and thought  “I didn’t realise you were going to be like this.”

What annoys you about each other? 

Dad: *sheepishly* “you start…”

Mum: “Erm, there’s nothing really that annoys me about your Dad because if it did we wouldn’t have been together all this time. Anything that annoys me about your Dad he knows, like his snoring and his grumpiness that has come with age.”

Dad: “Your mum’s shopping habits aren’t great… and she never does the bins. Your mother’s stubborn too. It doesn’t annoy me [*he says sheepishly again*], it’s just an observation.”

Have you ever gone through a rough patch in your marriage? 

Mum: “I think people who go through rough patches are people who have issues with each other, not the situations that are going on in their lives. Everybody goes through times in their life that are hard, but if you have a strong relationship you support each other and the reason marriages break up is because people give in too easy.”

Dad: “Either people aren’t suited, shouldn’t have got married in the first place or let little things become a big deal. They just use it as an excuse and don’t stick to it.”

My parents in Italy, 2016

Mum: “A lot of people end up divorced because of a third party. One person in the relationship will think that ‘there must be something better than this’ and they’re tempted by what they think might be better than what they’ve got. A lot of the time they go on to find that’s not the case and what they had was comfortable and secure. They’ve given that up for something they thought was initially exciting but turns out to be mundane and ordinary.”

What advice would you give to newly married couples? 

Mum: Just think about how the other feels about things all the time and don’t set your expectations too high. The thing is when you first get married you take on a lot of financial responsibility as well, it’s all very boring and everything but you just kind of get on with it. You’re learning all the time.”

Dad: Just be aware of each others short comings. Make each other laugh. Always know you’re going to lose the argument – pretend to have a quick argument then let it go.”

How have you overall survived 30 years of marriage?

Dad: Because we love each other, we make each other laugh and we’re best mates.


So, there is such thing as soul mates – not all hope is lost people.


Confessions of an over-thinker

To ‘overthink’ is to think about something too much for too long – from why didn’t my friend text me back, to what do I want to do with my life? It’s an on going cycle of thoughts churning when most of the time it’s all over nothing.

Example number 1: friendships

If you don’t text back within half an hour, we will think you’ve either died or you hate us. We’ll be staring at our phone like we’re waiting to find out if you’ve survived surgery when you had a 50/50 chance of survival… when really we’re just waiting on a reply if you want to come out tonight. Whilst we’re sat there wondering if you’ve had a car crash, you’re probably just in the shower.


Example number 2: relationships

Don’t get me started- if relationships aren’t a trip to anxiety-ville, I don’t know what is. Being in a generation of playing “hard to get” is hell to an over-thinker. Does he like me, does he not? Is he speaking to someone else? Does he even want a girlfriend? Did the date go OK? Did I have something in my teeth? He heard me fart didn’t he? I swore it was silent. Etc.

Then when you’re actually in the relationship, it doesn’t get much better. Every small thing you do it a sign to us. He wants to go out with the lads this weekend… to probably bitch about me. His mum definitely hates me. He’s not text much today, he definitely wants to break up… but he was just on his Xbox.


Example number 3: the battle with trying to sleep

Ah, 10:30pm, maybe I should head off to sleep. 3 hours later you’re still laid there questioning things from the purpose of life to what you should wear to your Grandma’s birthday this weekend. Our brains. don’t. turn. off.

family guy

Example 4: being a sarcastic bastard

Do you know how hard is it to be queen of sarcasm but on then overthink the sarcy comment you made. You’ll be bringing the banter and drop a sarcastic line that blows everyone away – next thing you know you’re thinking about the comment several days later wondering if it a bit harsh and if they knew you were joking. Argh! It quickly goes from giggling at your own savage-ness to rocking back and forth in your room thinking about what a bad person you are.


Example number 5: attempting the “fuck it” lifestyle

Knowing you’re £-500 but find a pair of jeans on Asos you simply love and order them on impulse. Then you worry about it for 3-5 working days until they arrive and send them straight back knowing you don’t have £35 to spare. Or, thinking “fuck it” and go out with your friends despite the fact you have a 9am lecture tomorrow then spend the whole night out thinking about how you should be in bed right now. Damn it.



So over all, an over-thinker will never be a care-free person who all of a sudden decides to pack up their bags and travel the world or something – well actually we might do but we would overthink it, panic and unpack our bags immediately…

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