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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 24, 2016

Do Islamic Succession Laws for Muslim Women Violate the Current Human Rights Framework? Developing an Ethical Working Model for Muslim Minority Nations

Brooke Thompson EMAIL logo


Managing the issue of a Muslim minority has been an important question for some Western democracies over the last 50 years, and different states have implemented varying frameworks to grant some sort of group autonomy to Muslim minorities in a show of support for diversity. In recent years, however, scholarly analysis of these frameworks has exposed some of the vulnerabilities women from Islamic minorities face when navigating personal status systems. This article explores some of those frameworks and the ways democratic nations grapple with the rights granted to women under a human rights agenda, and the conflicting tension between these rights and the rights of women in Islamic personal status law. This article will focus particularly on Islamic inheritance laws and the way these laws interact with the legal systems of India and the United Kingdom. Part I will address the conflict between theories of liberal multiculturalism and feminism, and discuss the common desire for Muslim minorities to exercise some sort of control in the areas of personal status laws (being marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance). Parts II and III seek to contextualize and outline women’s rights within both the general international human rights framework and the Islamic inheritance law framework. Parts IV and V will then explore the two different ways that India and the United Kingdom grant autonomy to Islamic minorities and address vulnerabilities women face in a human rights context. Analysis of these systems will show that it remains questionable whether they comply with each country’s international law obligations. Finally, Part VI of this article will outline a proposed working model drawing on Shachar’s intersectionist approach to recognize and prioritize the multiple identities of Muslim women and the necessity for inter and intra group dialogue in resolving tensions between minority rights and the rights granted to women within the human rights framework.


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Published Online: 2016-8-24
Published in Print: 2016-6-1

©2016 by De Gruyter

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