I am pleased to be among you today. I am confident that the campaign,
“Make my Community Safe,” launched by the OCRCC will strengthen the battle to
eliminate sexual violence and that is a positive move towards building a better society
for all. I encourage everyone to participate actively in supporting not only this
campaign, but all campaigns of this nature.
As an activist for Women’s equality in Iran; as a transitional counsellor who works directly with abused women, particularly
battered immigrant women; and as a founder of the Campaign against Sharia court in Canada,
I have consistently opposed the involvement
of religion in the justice system.
I would like to describe the situation of women
and young girls living in the so called Islamic communities of
Just picture this reality: In these communities more than half the
population is oppressed by the imposition on them of backward traditions. Having a boyfriend is
taboo. A women who disobeys gender norms may be disowned by her
family and harassed by her community. And the
sad part is, the government of Ontario, despite the awareness raised by women’s
activists and the Campaign Against Sharia Court in Canada, not only has kept quiet, but
also, through its silence, legitimized the oppression, inequality and injustice in the
name of respecting other cultures.
Yes, the government of
If we are for safer communities by ending sexual violence; if we are
for state intervention to protect children by use of a child protection law; if we are for
“equal rights for all”, for, “one law for all” irrespective of sex race, religion
and ethnicity, then we should not hesitate to call upon the authorities to empower
battered immigrant women by removing family law from the Arbitration Act 1991. By
providing battered women with appropriate support systems, the women would learn to
understand their rights, such as the right to leave the abusers, the right to charge the
abusers and the right to integrate into Canadian society.
Only then we
can ensure a safe place for all women; and indeed, for all Canadians.