At an Ontario writers' group gathering last Saturday, many issues were raised by members of the audience on the rights of women in Islam, how women are treated within the different strains of Islam and how Western women can help not only in alleviating the lot of Muslim women, but also making sure that Muslim women themselves recognize that there is indeed a problem in the way orthodoxy treats them.

Out of that discussion arose a consensus on many points, and some polite disagreement.

Someone commented that the process needs to involve a top-down approach and that the Islamic leadership itself has to step up to the challenge of re-interpreting precepts in a way that is more equitable to Muslim women. Only edicts from leaders themselves are likely to propel a reformation.

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