The central question of this study concerns the relationship between domestic violence and shari’a. This relationship is of critical importance because shari’a provides both the legal framework for administering family relations and a religio-cultural framework for social norms and values in Muslim societies. This study seeks to provide an analytical framework and a comparative assessment of domestic violence in Muslim societies in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

This article explains how notions or honour can act as catalysts for so-called honour based violence when ideas of family and community are challenged by women, and highlights a number of recent and high-profile examples of honour crimes in the UK. A key question is how these crimes should be regarded in the context of our increasingly multi-cultural society. The article examines the way in which the British media have reported these crimes has misrepresented ethnic minorities and engendered a sense of mainstream moral superiority.

This report addresses the dominant culture-based paradigms that justify or explain the violations of women’s rights, reducing violence against women to a cultural problem. It traces the trends in the development of the international normative framework on violence against women in relation to culture that culminated in the recognition of the primacy of women’s right to live a life free of gender-based violence over any cultural considerations.

In this report, the potential of the due diligence standard is explored at different levels of intervention: individual women, the community, the State and the transnational level. At each level, recommendations for relevant actors are highlighted.

In the first of the Occasional Papers to be published by MWRAF, Asgar Ali Engineer gives a fresh insight into aspects of equity and justice for Muslim women. He argues on the basis of the Quran and Hadiths that Islam does not deny rights and justice to women. Justice is the basis of Islamic society.

In this article, Engineer goes through a thorough historical and Qur’anic analysis of the punishment of stoning for zina. He comes to the conclusion that stoning to death is against the fundamental values prescribed in the Qur’an, as it kills an erring human being rather than giving him/her the chance to repent and reform. He states that there is a great need for bringing changes in the Islamic fiqh in keeping with the Qur’anic values.

In Arab and Islamic countries, domestic violence is not yet considered a major concern despite its increasing frequency and serious consequences. Surveys in Egypt, Palestine, Israel and Tunisia show that at least one out of three women is beaten by her husband. The indifference to this type of violence stems from attitudes that domestic violence is a private matter and, usually, a justifiable response to misbehaviour on the part of the wife. Selective excerpts from the Koran are used to prove that men who beat their wives are following God’s commandments.

In this book, which is the result of a seminar that took place in London in 2003, researchers from Middle East and Latin America came together to compare and analyse ‘honour crimes’ within these various contexts. Although the social contexts on these continents are quite different – Islamic or Catholic countries, besides other cultural differences – the outcomes of the researches are similar: women who were killed either by their husbands or by their own kin. The aim was to demystify such crimes.

This report contains a detailed review of international, regional, and national developments and best practices for ways and means of combating violence against women over the period 1994-2003. The report is not fully comprehensive, some regions or countries have been reported on in greater detail than others, reflecting the information that was available to the Special Rapporteur. (All countries of this bibliography are examined in this report) 

This report documents a number of cultural practices (including FGM, honour killings, and witchcraft allegations) which violate women’s human rights to bodily integrity and to expression, as well as undermining essential values of equality and dignity. These practices and many others constitute a form of domestic violence but have avoided national and international scrutiny because they are seen as cultural practices that deserve tolerance and respect.

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