Here are two articles that discuss Sharia courts in action. The first extract is from the International Herald Tribune:
A Pakistan-born 33-year-old mother of five explained that her husband would beat her and her children. “He threatens to kill us,” she said, as her daughter translated from Urdu. “He calls me a Jew and an infidel.” Hasan told her to immediately get police protection and request an Islamic divorce.
Another woman, 25, wanted out of a two-year-old arranged marriage with a man who refused to consummate the relationship. Hasan counseled dialogue.
“Until we see the husband,” he said, “we can’t be sure that what you’re saying is true.”
Later, after a question from the floor, he clarified his position as being one of confusion as to why relationships such as extra-marital affairs should be recognised under English law, and furthermore how men could be permitted to marry other men, and women other women. He argued that if such relationships were not considered abhorrent, then current attitudes towards polygamy could not, and should not, be justified.
The main problem with using this argument in favour of recognition of polygamous marriages both inside and outside this country is that of proof as to whether these marriages have been entered into willingly and freely by the women involved. No one forces a person to have an extra-marital affair, or to enter into a civil partnership, but there is widespread evidence of the forcing of women into polygamous relationships in many religions and in many parts of the world. To compare consensual relationships with forced ones, whether physical or emotional coercion is used, is completely misguided.
Rosa Freedman relates the full story on CiF.