“Tradition should not be used as an excuse for limiting gender equality.”

Babes against Bnai Brith!!

According to Haaretz, Jewish feminists are very angry at Bnai Brith in Ontario for the organization’s support for bringing Sharia law to Ontario.

As we recall from our last discussion, brief as it was, some Muslims in Ontario seek to receive the legal right to use “private arbitration based on Islamic law for the resolution of their marital, custody and inheritance disputes.”

So, as CK pointed out, certain Jews have been enjoying the benefit of arbitration under Jewish law, and realized that if Sharia was denied, they might find their benefits denied.

If Ontario allows arbitration under Sharia, it will be the first Western society to do so.

Under Sharia, male heirs receive almost double the inheritance of females. Alimony is limited to a period ranging from three months to one year, unless a woman was pregnant before she was divorced. Only men can initiate divorce proceedings, and fathers virtually always are awarded custody of any children who have reached puberty.

Still, this was a minor obstacle to Bnai Brith, which fears that if Sharia prospects are diminished, then rabbinical courts and oversight over certain aspects of Jewish life will also be placed under scrutiny and ultimately become illegal. So they went ahead and defended the Torah, as their lawyer put it, by advocating for Ontario to permit Muslims to abide by Sharia under the protection of the law.

It is pointed out by one of the so-called feminists that the rabbinical courts enabled men to withhold gets from the wives they were divorcing and that these unfair actions were sanctioned by the state because of its provision for the legal basis of these courts. She also noted that it took a change in civil law – refusing to grant a civil divorce until the religious divorce is given – to rectify this problem.

In other words, while years went by before the law was modified to reflect the clash of rabbinical laws with Canadian law, many women were made to suffer by these traditions that do not reflect our modern society and its attempt to seek equality for all of its participants.

As for allowing Sharia? The report given to the Ontario government,

would allow women to waive their right to independent legal advice – something critics feel often may be done under spousal coercion. The report also did not recommend that those unable to afford a lawyer be eligible for legal aid.

It doesn’t take too much effort to figure out that the same problems, and probably more severe, will affect Muslims and Muslim women if Sharia law is allowed to exist alongside Canadian law. Yet, this was the recommendation to the Ontario government has been given: allow it.

It’s a farce, in my humble opinion, and a genuine mistake.

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