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Women's Rights or Religious Rights? Religion, Law, and the Historical Construction of Gender Inequality in India

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Abstract:

This article examines the controversy over reforming Islamic law in India in the 1980s. The issue could have been defined in multiple ways: as an issue of religious freedom; minority rights and multiculturalism; nationalism; or women’s rights. Different groups defined the issue according to their political interests, and the power to shape legal reform lay to a significant extent in the ability to define the issue and thus, the terms of the debate. In the 1980s, both opponents and supporters defined the reform of Islamic law primarily in terms of religious identity and minority rights, rather than in terms of gender rights, and this definition was legitimized by the government. Because the reforms were not defined primarily as an issue of gender rights, the legislation passed by the government as the outcome of the controversy has been of dubious benefit to Indian Muslim women.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

muslim (152), law (142), person (86), women (80), right (66), issu (52), india (45), court (37), polit (36), religi (34), judgment (34), islam (33), communiti (32), defin (31), religion (30), argu (29), govern (28), conserv (27), gender (27), support (27), suprem (26),

Author's Keywords:

India; personal laws; religion; law; gender; women
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Williams, Rina. "Women's Rights or Religious Rights? Religion, Law, and the Historical Construction of Gender Inequality in India" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hilton Chicago and the Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL, Sep 02, 2004 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p60648_index.html>

APA Citation:

Williams, R. V. , 2004-09-02 "Women's Rights or Religious Rights? Religion, Law, and the Historical Construction of Gender Inequality in India" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hilton Chicago and the Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p60648_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This article examines the controversy over reforming Islamic law in India in the 1980s. The issue could have been defined in multiple ways: as an issue of religious freedom; minority rights and multiculturalism; nationalism; or women’s rights. Different groups defined the issue according to their political interests, and the power to shape legal reform lay to a significant extent in the ability to define the issue and thus, the terms of the debate. In the 1980s, both opponents and supporters defined the reform of Islamic law primarily in terms of religious identity and minority rights, rather than in terms of gender rights, and this definition was legitimized by the government. Because the reforms were not defined primarily as an issue of gender rights, the legislation passed by the government as the outcome of the controversy has been of dubious benefit to Indian Muslim women.

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Document Type: .PDF
Page count: 14
Word count: 8164
Text sample:
Women's Rights or Religious Rights? Religion Law and the Historical Construction of Gender Inequality in India Rina Verma Williams University of Virginia Prepared for delivery at the 2004 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association September 2 ­ September 5 2004. Copyright by the American Political Science Association. DRAFT ONLY. Do not quote without author's permission. Women's Rights or Religious Rights? Religion Law and the Historical Construction of Gender Inequality in India Rina Verma Williams University of Virginia
What Will She Do? Paternalism Towards Women in the Administration of Muslim Personal Law in Contemporary India " in Larson op. cit. 240. 56 Report from website of the Centre for Women's Development Studies. http://www.womenexcel.com/law/womenlaw2.htm (accessed 8/25/04). 57 Hasan "Gender Politics " op. cit. 77. Of course others have argued that the state is not and should not be the key agent of social reform in the first instance. See Menon op. cit. Ch. 4. 58 Mitra and Fischer


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