Issues related to the ‘public sphere’,1 such as laws which concern work or political participation, have undergone many developments. Personal status, however, has remained the last bastion of male dominance. It has become, in many contexts (e.g. Muslim countries or minority or immigrant communities), a symbol of religious/cultural differences and closely intertwined with the group religious/national identity. It has remained, in most cases, under the authority of the religious institutions and any attempts at reform always spur strong reactions.