Three important changes in English
law in the past quarter of a century have opened the doors of the English
matrimonial Courts to Muslim spouses resident in England. Prior to 1973, the
English Courts exercised divorce jurisdiction on the basis of domicile; spouses
resident but not domiciled in England could not invoke the jurisdiction of the
English Court to terminate their marriage.
The custom of arranged marriages is
generally endorsed by South Asian communities of all religious affiliations. The
system may have some advantages if due regard is given to the wishes and
preferences of the intended spouses, and if dowry considerations do not turn the
exercise into a commercial transaction — both very big “ifs.” It is the ugly
side of arranged marriages that has made headlines in the British and American
press several times in recent years.
One of the most frequent questions I am
faced with in the process of my dialogue with men regarding the personal laws and
women’s rights is whether or not we, women - think Mehr is a provision which
is an unjust imposition on men. They further ask whether or not we, women -
who demand equality for ourselves be against this provision?
Soon after I began my study of the
religious life of the Lebanese Shi’a residing in the eastern section of
Dearborn, Michigan, I occasionally heard rumors that mut’a (temporary or
pleasure marriage) was being encouraged by the religious leaders (shaikhs) in
In 1979 the Islamic regime of
Pakistan introduced changes in the law of rape, providing Islamic standards of
proof and punishment for this crime. The law concerning rape was made part of
the ordinance, called The Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance, VII
of 1979 (the term zina encompasses adultery, fornication, rape and
Farida Rahman MP’s Private Member’s
Bill on a proposed amendment to section V1 of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance
1961 has become a much-talked-about subject because of its unconventional and
contentious nature. Particularly, various women’s activist groups have shown
tremendous interest in it. The subject of the bill raises the whole issue of
women’s rights of general interests.
The legal status of the Muslim women (1) in Bangladesh is defined by the principles
of Sharia through Muslim Personal Law along with the general law which is
non-religious and secular in its character. The Muslim personal law covers the
field of marriage, divorce, maintenance, guardianship of children and
inheritance whereas the general law covers the rights under the Constitution,
penal codes, the civil and criminal procedure codes, evidence act etc.
A ‘Family Code’ law has been introduced which removes many of women’s
basic human rights. She also speaks about contraception, the problem of
abandoned children and the consequences for women of the insistence on virginity
I would like to start with this new law, which is known in Algeria under the
name “Family Code”, (not the name of it, that is “Law on Personal Status”) a
title which is also used in Tunisia and Morocco.
Most commentary on the condition of
women in the Middle East assigns a central place to the role of Islam. In fact,
there have been important variations, as well as persistent similarities, in
women’s conditions in Muslim societies. To make sense of the varieties of
women’s real, concrete historical experience, we must avoid confusing analytic
and polemical goals.
Current writing on women in
the Middle East exhibits two equally vigorous, but so far divergent trends.