Monday, May 28

Uneasy Partners - Women's rights and religion

The Toronto Star writes on gender rights in a multicultural society. Women want to explore, discuss, debate, uncover, educate and demystify.

True story: man kills wife, stabbing her in the neck 19 times with a steak knife, is convicted of first-degree murder and appeals on basis that she was unfaithful and, as a devout Muslim, he was protecting family honour.

Nice try, and maybe elsewhere in the world Adi Abdul Humaid might have been acquitted. But the United Arab Emirates citizen made the mistake of murdering Aysar Abbas in Ottawa in 1999 and, ultimately, the Ontario Court of Appeal rejected his appeal.

Superior Court Justice J.A. Doherty said that had Humaid killed his wife for religious beliefs, that alone would have been "a motive for murder." But it was a moot point because Doherty didn't buy Humaid's new religious devotion and, in his 2006 ruling, concluded the story lacked credibility.

Nevertheless, the judge was concerned enough about the nature of the defence argument to write: "The alleged beliefs are premised on the notion that women are inferior to men and that violence against women is in some circumstances accepted, if not encouraged. These beliefs are antithetical to fundamental Canadian values, including gender equality."

Perhaps it's not such a stretch to be thinking about such arguments. Already, there is growing controversy over women's rights in our multicultural society, whether over wearing the veil to vote in Quebec or the practice of polygamy among B.C. Mormons. Doesn't it say something about the status of women's rights when polygamy, illegal under the criminal code, is allowed to continue?

LINK: Toronto Star
LINK: Uneasy Partners

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