Muslim women deserve choice
The Toronto Star December 27, 2004 Monday
Copyright 2004 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.
The Toronto Star
December 27, 2004 Monday
SECTION: LETTER; Pg. A39
LENGTH: 326 words
HEADLINE: Muslim women deserve choice
Tribunals need scrutiny
Editorial, Dec. 22.
I can appreciate that many are concerned about the exploitation of Muslim women. However, the discourse is now bordering on the racist.
Our legal system is based on the premise that individuals with legal capacity can make their own decisions and agreements – within the private domain – even if these may not be the “correct” choice according to the majority. The concern about social pressure is valid, but the same pressures exist in the legal setting where the vast majority of cases are settled out of court where parties compromise for less than their legal entitlements, in many instances without even the advice of lawyers.
Should we not allow Muslim women to sign marriage contracts, separation agreements or settle any disputes without independent legal advice while everyone else can exercise this choice?
Your editorial failed to note that the fact that independent legal advice is not obtained allows a court to set aside the matter. It also ignores the fact that a growing number are also resolving their family disputes themselves or through paralegals who in many cases act for both parties.
A paternalistic attitude toward the Muslim community will not solve the issue of social pressure and may, in fact, alienate many and drive them to alternatives with even less protection, as Marion Boyd notes.
Boyd’s report addressed the legitimate concerns and ignored the alarmist rants. In fact, her report merely affirms our constitutional right to religious freedom, equal treatment under the law, multiculturalism and ensures that we are in compliance with our international obligations as per article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – to which Canada acceded on May 19, 1976 – which imposes a positive duty on a state to assist its minorities to preserve its values by allowing them to enjoy their own culture and to profess and practise their own religion.
Faisal Kutty, Toronto
Tags: Muslim Women
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