POL340Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Sharia, Dalton Mcguinty, Mumtaz Ali
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Lecture 10: 11/17/10
International Human Rights for Women
Sharia Law in Ontario
A Muslim lawyer announced the creation of an institution of family law based on
On the one hand, Sharia Law treats women in a discriminatory, negative (a women in
a Sharia Law tribunal would come out worse than if she had used the
On the other hand, who are we to tell a women how to order her affairs? If she wants
to go the Sharia Law tribunal, then why is the state substituting her choice for theirs?
Rationality and duress: would a rational Muslim women not use a Sharia Law tribunal
unless under duress?
-Dr. Syed Mumtaz Ali: the institute for family law in Ontario – all good Muslims should
use the Sharia Law institute instead
-“The Ontario government has quietly authorized Sharia Law to operate in Ontario”
-When women and the Muslim community (Canadian Council of Muslim Women)
heard about Sharia law in Ontario, they immediately thought of Sharia law of the East
(women being stoned for adultery, etc.)
-The argument was that Sharia law needed to be banned in Ontario. Both British
Colombia and Quebec agree.
In 1991, the Arbitration Act is passed in Ontario. The Act tries to increase access to
justice (if you got married in the UK and you wanted a divorce and you wanted your
assets to be split based on UK law – you could have someone who knows about UK
family law – division of property and custody of children). It’s cheaper and easier and
more flexible – the results of the arbitration are binding.
-Jewish family law tribunals developed (to deal with division of property and custody
of children) – they operate for the next 15 years without a peep. Nor do we hear
about any of the arbitrations.
-B.C. did not have the Arbitration Act, nor did Quebec – so it was easy for them not to
authorize Sharia law in their provinces
-Worked in clinics to help women who were abused/an attorney general
Boyd Report (12/04):
-Culturally familiar institutions are important – particularly for the poor
-If not legalized and regulated, Sharia Law family matters will be settled in an
unregulated and underground fashion (if there are Muslim women who are oppressed
and forced to go to these institutions under duress, it’s better that we arbitrate it)
-Address the fears – consent, duress, safeguards, and the best interest of the children
– through safeguards (no matter what happens in the Sharia law tribunal/Jewish
tribunal/etc. there must be safeguards to ensure there is no duress)