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Lecture 10

Lecture 10.doc

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Political Science
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Joseph Bryant

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Lecture 10: 11/17/10 International Human Rights for Women Sharia Law in Ontario -Feminist Conundrum? A Muslim lawyer announced the creation of an institution of family law based on Sharia Law 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 -2003 -Arbitration Act -“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 Marion Boyd -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)-‘Muslim law should be able to operate within Canadian law.’ (Did not work – the academic community was disappointed by this decision) Professor Anger Emon -a part of an Islamic reformation, as part of an effort to try and remove that which is misogynist within Sharia law, allow a version of Sharia law to evolve in controlled setting. -allow access to justice, deal with the reality of the economic circumstances of these families, while at the same time protecting rights -if a moderate version of Sharia law was not allowed to gestate in Canada, only the extreme version would prevail throughout the world International Protest against Ontario Sharia Law -September, 2005: Toronto, Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Stockholm, London, Paris. -About a dozen people in each city -In Toronto, there were 300 -But Margaret Atwood was there Dalton McGuinty -‘No Sharia law in Ontario!’ -‘No religious arbitration in Ontario!’ -‘One law for all Ontario!’ Human Rights Treaties -Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) - - - - - - - -Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1999) Which international human rights are implicated by Sharia law operating within Ontario? -Freedom of religion, expression and association -Equality -Property rights *Association: if we take away the right to use a Sharia law tribunal – it isn’t that you’re denied the right to practice Sharia law, you just can’t take it to a judge. **Does Sharia law discriminate in how property should be divided? Sharia law in Ontario -Custody: “best interest of children” (Ontario statutes) [this trumps the Sharia law version of custody] -Division of property [the only thing that can be taken to the Sharia law tribunal] -NOT divorce [divorce is federal law – cannot be taken to the Sharia law tribunal] **Does Sharia law discriminate in how property should be divided?*You can’t ban Sharia law according to our constitution because its religious and there’s no proof that it’s dangerous – you can’t say no to religious tribunals *Instead you make the arbitration non binding – any arbitrations arising from Sharia law are non-binding Is there a way a
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