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In drawing together the threads and themes of Women, Law and Culture, Jocelynne A. Scutt reflects upon the realities of history, whereby neither law nor culture has been kind to women. Globally, women’s rights have been ignored, while women have been overlooked or subjected to vilification, domination, subjugation and denial of identity. John Knox, in deploring ‘that monstrous band of women’ (1858), was affronted by women daring to stand up for themselves, speak up for themselves and claim rights for themselves, their daughters, their mothers and grandmothers, aunts and fellow women. He was not alone. His demand that women—weak, sick, blind, impotent, foolish, mad, frenetic as he contended, must be silent and silenced—simply followed the anti-woman sentiments of learned jurists such as Chief Justice Matthew Hale in his Pleas of the Crown (1736) and William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765–1769). Like law, culture has been and continues to be used as an excuse for forced and arranged marriage, genital mutilation, ukases for body and head-covering and denial of women’s agency. ‘Other’ cultures are not alone in enforcing subjugation upon women. Scutt points out that all cultures have at one time or another constrained women’s bodies, similarly all religions have dictated women’s dress and demeanour. She reflects on each of the chapters in Women, Law and Culture as they address issues of law, culture and demands for women’s conformity, the Contradiction of law and culture in their application to women and the conflicts confronting women in law and culture globally. For Scutt, culture and law collide with women who demand the right to be human, human rights as women’s rights and women’s rights as human rights.
KeywordsHate Crime Reasonable Woman Urban Public Space Honour Crime Indian Penal Code
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