Re-Framing the Sharia Arbitration Debate

Trevor C.W. Farrow


The “matter of religious arbitration in . . . Ontario” to which Margaret Atwood and nine others are referring is a vocal, polarized debate – the “[S]haria debate.”2 It has largely been framed by two questions. Should Ontario “[p]rohibit the use of religion in the arbitration of family law disputes”3 to avoid “the ghettoization of members of religious communities as well as human-rights abuses?”4 Or would such a prohibition do a “great disservice to a number of religious groups in Ontario, and nothing to safeguard the interests of Muslim women?”5 Several fundamental rights and interests are engaged by this debate, including religious freedom, gender equality, the rights of children, national and cultural identity, freedom from hatred, the role of the state in family law, and others.

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