Interrogating the “Shari’a” Excuse: Religious Reasoning, International Law, and the Struggle for Gender Equality in the Middle East
Women’s rights in the Middle East are highly contested and hyper-politicized. Many Muslim-majority countries defend their right to discriminate against women as their religious prerogative. This paper challenges this claim based on Islamic grounds. Using the UAE’s Shari’a-based reservations to Article 16 of CEDAW as a starting point, this paper examines the nature of patriarchal laws in the UAE, focusing specifically on family law. It studies the merit of the religious arguments offered by the UAE to defend laws that privilege husbands over wives and legitimize domestic violence. Emphasizing the malleable nature of religious reasoning, Ayesha S. Chaudhry argues for using religious reasoning to promote gender-equal family law and criminalize domestic violence.
KeywordsIslam UAE Gender Family law Shari’a law CEDAW Interpretation Domestic violence
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