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Self-Determination and Women's Rights in Muslim Societies

Chitra Raghavan

Publication Year: 2012

Contradicting the views commonly held by westerners, many Muslim countries in fact engage in a wide spectrum of reform, with the status of women as a central dimension. This anthology counters the myth that Islam and feminism are always or necessarily in opposition. A multidisciplinary group of scholars examine ideology, practice, and reform efforts in the areas of marriage, divorce, abortion, violence against women, inheritance, and female circumcision across the Islamic world, illuminating how religious and cultural prescriptions interact with legal norms, affecting change in sometimes surprising ways.

Published by: Brandeis University Press

Series: HBI Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and Law


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Front Matter

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pp. ix-xi

When John Jay College of Criminal Justice was founded in 1964 as a liberal arts college for police officers, it would have been virtually unimaginable that the college would be sponsoring an edited volume on the topics of self-determination . . .

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Introduction: Gender Equality, Change, and the Quest for Social Justice for Women in Muslim Societies

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pp. xiii-xxix

The struggle for gender equality is neither new nor confined to Muslim societies. Non-Muslim women have endured long histories of very particularized oppression justified by both religious and secular male-driven laws . . .

I. Politics of Change

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1.The Politics of Abortion Policy in the Heterogeneous “Muslim World”

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pp. 3-36

Legal frameworks in part inspired by Muslim jurisprudence (also referred to as Sharia laws) regulate the lives of as many as 600 million women around the world, a majority of them living in Asia. Personal Status Codes, known . . .

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2. Promoting a Violence against Women Law in Morocco: Legislative Advocacy by Grassroots-level NGOS

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pp. 37-70

This chapter describes an ongoing, grassroots-level legislative advocacy campaign to promote a violence against women law in Morocco. Both the approach and the country raise interesting and timely questions about the processes of . . .

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3. No Way Out: The Dual Subordination of Muslim Women in Indian Legal Culture

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pp. 71-92

Muslims in India account for 12 percent of the population (approximately 102 million people) and are India’s largest religious minority. Despite some progress toward a more inclusive state, the large Muslim minority in India continues to . . .

II. Law and Culture

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4. Reconsidering "Talaq": Marriage, Divorce, and Sharia Reform in the Republic of Maldives

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pp. 95-123

The Maldives, an entirely Muslim society that is reputed to have the highest divorce rate in the world, enacted comprehensive family law reform in 2001 designed to create greater equality between men and women. One of the key . . .

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5. Female Circumcision in Southeast Asia since the Coming of Islam

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pp. 124-146

The current program to eradicate female circumcision in Islamic Southeast Asia is weakened by ignorance of its history. It is argued here that female circumcision is not a pre-Islamic custom but was brought to the region with . . .

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6. The Moudawana and Rural Marital Relationships: Reformed or Resolute?

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pp. 147-168

This chapter focuses on the changing marital relationships1 in a rural Moroccan Berber community — which, like many other towns across the country, is of marginal importance to either officials in Rabat or academics. Drawing on . . .

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7. Negotiating Female Genital Cutting ("Sunat") in Southern Thailand

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pp. 169-187

This chapter examines the performance of a mild form of female genital cutting (FGC) in southern Thailand (locally called sunat) and its embeddedness in situational social and family dynamics where religious education, seniority, . . .

III. The Law in Action

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8. The Marriage Contract in the Maghreb: Challenges and Opportunities for Women's Rights

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pp. 191-218

In Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, matters having to do with marriage, divorce, and property that affect women’s rights are governed by family or personal status laws.1 In contrast to other legislation governing contracts, torts, criminal . . .

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9 | Unsatisfactory Aspects of Women’s Rights to Property in Uganda and Proposals for Reform

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pp. 219-239

This chapter examines women’s rights to property in marriage, on divorce and on the death of a spouse in Uganda, highlighting the unsatisfactory aspects in both the state-made (statutory) and other (customary and religious) laws. It . . .

IV. Feminist Identities

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10. Triangulating Reform in Family Law

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pp. 243-272

In Israel, Egypt, and India, individuals who want to marry or get a divorce need to do that according to the rules of their ethno-religious communities: Muslims are subject to Sharia, Christians to canon law, Jews to Halakhah, Hindus to Hindu . . .

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11 | Contemporary Iranian Feminisms: Definitions, Narratives, and Identity

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pp. 273-301

This study, apart from being an academic project, has also been a personal journey. In contrast to feminist writers such as Mehrangiz Kar, Azadeh Kian, Shirin Ebadi, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, and Nayereh Tohidi, whose feminist . . .


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pp. 303-305


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pp. 307-314


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pp. 315-317


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pp. 319-338

E-ISBN-13: 9781611682816
E-ISBN-10: 1611682819
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611682793

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: HBI Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and Law
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OCLC Number: 796995746
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Self-Determination and Women's Rights in Muslim Societies

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Women -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Islamic countries.
  • Women's rights -- Islamic countries.
  • Women's rights -- Religious aspects -- Islam.
  • Equality before the law -- Islamic countries.
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