Criminalising Sexuality: Zina Laws as Violence Against Women in Muslim Contexts
SUR International Journal on Human Rights, Vol. 8, No. 15, p. 7, December 2011
37 Pages Posted: 19 May 2012
Date Written: October 1, 2011
This author offers a feminist and rights-based critique of zina laws in Muslim legal tradition, which define any sexual relations outside legal marriage as a crime.
In the early 20th century, zina laws, which were rarely applied in practice, also became legally obsolete in almost all Muslim countries and communities; but with the resurgence of Islam as a political and spiritual force later in the 20th century, in several states and communities zina laws were selectively revived, codified and grafted onto the criminal justice system, and applied through the machinery of the modern state.
The author reviews current campaigns to decriminalise consensual sex, and argues that zina laws must also be addressed from within the Islamic legal tradition.
Exploring the intersections between religion, culture and law that legitimate violence in the regulation of sexuality, the author proposes a framework that can bring Islamic and human rights principles together.
Keywords: Sexuality, Violence, Gender, Islam, Law, Human rights
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