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WSC Blog

Working to end violence against women in Canada

Guest blog post on CCMW’s Legal Services Project

The Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) is a national non-profit organization committed to attaining equality, equity, and empowerment for all Muslim women in Canada. Founded in 1982, the organization promotes Muslim women’s identity in the Canadian context. For more than 38 years, CCMW has proudly advocated on behalf of Muslim women and their families and has developed national projects that enrich the identity of Canadian Muslims, encourage civic engagement, and empower communities. 

During the past several years, CCMW has undertaken initiatives to inform Muslim women, the legal profession, community service agencies, policy-makers, and the general public about the differences between Muslim family laws and Canadian family laws. 

Recently, CCMW launched the Legal Services Coordination Pilot Program, the first-ever legal services coordination pilot program geared specifically to Muslim women in Canada. The program aims to provide culturally appropriate legal services coordination for Muslim women seeking legal advice and counsel on family law issues. It is a one-stop referral service designed expressly for Muslim women in Canada to address their unique needs resulting from complexities related to Canadian and Muslim family laws. CCMW is pleased to assist Canadian Muslim women in receiving legal services that are responsive to their needs in the spirit of fair and equitable access to justice. This pilot project, funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario, aims to formalize our ability to refer Muslim women to culturally appropriate legal services that address family law issues and protect them from violence. The purpose of the Legal Services Client Intake Form is to help our legal services coordination team identify the services Muslim women need and to assist and guide them (this can include services that do not categorize as Legal Services“). If you would like to contact someone from our legal services team for more information, please email legalservices@ccmw.com or contact us by phone at (647) 622-2221.  

Previously, CCMW published Muslim and Canadian Family Laws: A Comparative Primer in English and French and a series of booklets in several languages on family law topics to further its public education efforts. CCMW’s Muslim Women’s Family Law and Legal Rights project updated these documents and disseminated them via Knowledge Sharing workshops within different cities across Canada for Muslim women, community service providers, the legal profession, and the general public. 

In 2003, CCMW took the lead in establishing a coalition against religious arbitration. Composed of over 50 sister organizations, including the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL), Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC), and the YWCAthe No Religious Arbitration movement represented an array of complex issues and events. CCMW advocated for one set of laws to be applied to all, regardless of faith, ethnicity, race, or culture, under the existing family law legislation. CCMW believed that the use of religious laws through private arbitration to settle family matters, under the Arbitration Act, violated the hard-won equality rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and had the potential of creating a two-tiered, fractured justice system. We were successful in that the Government of Ontario decided to disallow the use of religious family laws under the province’s Arbitration Act.  

CCMW continues to inform Muslim women about the choices they have available to them within Muslim and Canadian family laws and simultaneously educate individuals and institutions that assist them or work with them to resolve family disputes. 

CCMW is composed of a national Board that works to further CCMW’s objectives at a national level and 15 local Chapters made up of members whose passion and hard work advance the vision of CCMW within local communities. To learn more about CCMW, visit: www.ccmw.com 

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