Triangulating Reform in Family Law: State, Religion and Women's Rights in Comparative Perspective
Self-Determination and Women's Rights in Muslim Societies, Chitra Raghavan & James Levine, eds., Brandeis University Press (2012), pp. 243-272
16 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2013
Date Written: 2012
In this chapter, Sezgin shows that although religion-based personal status laws discriminate against women, women do not just sit silently on the sidelines and acquiesce in violation of their fundamental rights at the hands of male-dominated religious institutions. On the contrary, women’s groups all over the world are spearheading a silent rights revolution that redefines women’s role as rights-bearing individuals in familial and public spaces. In doing so, these groups contest the scriptural monopoly of state-sanctioned religious institutions, reinterpret religious laws, and reinvent religious tradition by vernacularizing international women’s and human rights discourses. Against this background, the first part of the chapter demonstrates the implications of religion-based laws on rights and freedoms of women by looking at the Israeli, Egyptian, and Indian personal status systems. The second part of the chapter traces women-led reform movements that have emerged in the last two decades in these three countries and shows how women have responded to violations of their rights, and what tactics and strategies they have successfully employed to navigate the maze of religious law.
Keywords: Israel, Egypt, India, personal status, reform, women's rights, hermeneutic communities
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