Sharia law would harm Aussie Muslim women

Ida Lichter; 23/3/10

Sharia law for Australia is being mooted again. The Australian Muslim Mission and Islamic Friendship Association of Australia are advocating its introduction, especially in relation to family and inheritance, as these would be “an advantage” for women whose civil divorce is not recognised in Muslim countries. Arbitration courts for conferring an Islamic divorce or even settling disputes based in religion may appear innocuous and a useful option, but relevant experience outside Australia highlights some of the problems. The saga of sharia law in Ontario, Canada, is instructive. Proponents of sharia courts had argued that the Canadian government should not interfere in religious practice or education. Established under Ontario’s Arbitration Act of 1991, these courts dealt with a spectrum of family and business disputes and, although the procedure was voluntary, court decisions were binding.