Let me start by making something perfectly clear: women are not equal to men. I repeat, women are not equal to men. As any man knows (although some will not admit this), women are superior. However, throughout our history, women have often been treated as inferiors rather than superiors. Across many nations, women have been marching and demonstrating against this poor treatment, whether it be unequal pay for equal work, sexual intimidation, harassment or abuse, access to abortion services, or a host of similar issues. Considering how women have been treated, it’s only right (and far overdue) that this inferior treatment be brought to everyone’s attention, and action demanded that these inequalities be addressed now.
However, here in Canada, I fear that only a portion of our women will ultimately be lifted up by this move to equal rights, when it finally arrives. Yes, women are marching to address the list of inequalities I enumerated above, but there are other potential inequalities where women are strangely silent. I am talking about Sharia Law. Sharia Law is, of course, the legal code of the Muslim faith, and unlike Western legal codes, Sharia Law is far more comprehensive, in that it addresses both public and private practises and rules. There is a lot of confusion about Sharia Law, and even in the nations that follow Sharia Law, there are tremendous variations in just how much of this law is actually accepted (Egypt, for example, uses Sharia Law only for personal law, while Saudi Arabia uses it in full, including for criminal law).
Polls in Canada tell us that some Muslims are opposed to implementing Sharia Law in Canada, while other Muslims are in support of this implementation. Admitting I am an outsider to this faith and its laws, even a cursory review of Sharia Law leaves one with the very distinct impression that women are not treated equally (as compared to men) under this legal code. Whether we are talking about divorce, value of testimony, proof of rape, sharing of property, or access to children after a divorce, Sharia law seems to place numerous roadblocks for women, roadblocks we don’t see in most Western societies.
I am puzzled as to why the women’s movement in Canada (and the USA) seems strictly focused on the more traditional problems women face, and has seemingly ignored all the potential problems women will face should Sharia Law become accepted in these two nations. Or, going beyond these potential problems, why the woman’s movement isn’t actively protesting the horrors of female genital mutilation that is occurring, now, in our nations. I always believed that Canada stood for equal rights for all citizens, but now we seem to be headed to improved rights for some women, and lowered rights for others.
Brian McLeod is a St. Albert resident.