Around the world, discriminatory legislation prevents women from accessing their human rights. It can affect almost every aspect of a woman's life, including the right to choose a partner, inherit property, hold a job, and obtain child custody. Often referred to as family law, these laws have contributed to discrimination and to the justification of gender-based violence globally. This book demonstrates how women across the world are contributing to legal reform, helping to shape non-discriminatory policies and to counter current legal and social justifications for gender-based violence.
The book takes case studies from Brazil, India, Iran, Lebanon, Nigeria, Palestine, Senegal, and Turkey, using them to demosntrate in each case the varied history of family law and the wide variety of issues impacting women’s equality in legislation. Interviews with prominent women's rights activists in three additional countries are also included, giving personal accounts of the successes and failures of past reform efforts. Overall, the book provides a complex global picture of current trends and strategies in the fight for a more egalitarian society.
These findings come at a critical moment for change. Across the globe, family law issues are contentious. We are simultaneously witnessing an increased demand for women’s equality and the resurgence of fundamentalist forces that impede reform, invoking rules rooted in tradition, culture, and interpretations of religious texts. The outcome of these disputes has enormous ramifications for women’s roles in the family and society. This book tackles these complexities head on, and will interest activists, practitioners, students, and scholars working on women's rights and gender-based violence.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction Mahnaz Afkhami
PART I Country Case Studies
2. Feminist Advocacy for Family Law Reform: Cross-country overview Yakın Ertürk
3. Brazil Maria Barsted, Leila Linhares, and Jacqueline Pitanguy
4. India Kalpana Kannabiran
5. Iran Mehrangiz Kar and Azadeh Pourzand
6. Lebanon Ziyad Baroud and Ghadir El-Alayli
7. Nigeria Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri
8. Palestine Luna Saadeh, Fidaa Barghouthi, and Fatmeh Muaqqet
9. Senegal Alpha Ba and Aminata Bousso Ly
10. Turkey Gökçeçiçek Ayata and Ayşen Candaş
PART II Interviews
Introduction to the interviews with Leaders in the Egyptian, Jordanian, and Moroccan Campaigns to Reform Family Laws and Eliminate Gender-based Violence Haleh Vaziri
11. Interview with Hoda Elsadda
12. Interview with Asma Khader
13. Interview with Rabéa Naciri
14. Conclusion: Reflections on Recent Progress and Reversals in the War to Curb Violence against Women Ann Elizabeth Mayer
Mahnaz Afkhami is Founder and President of Women’s Learning Partnership, former Minister for Women’s Affairs in Iran, and author of Faith and Freedom: Women’s Human Rights in the Muslim World.
Yakın Ertürk is retired Professor of Sociology, former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes and consequences, former Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), and author of Violence without Borders: Paradigm, Policy and Praxis Concerning Violence Against Women.
Ann Elizabeth Mayer is Associate Professor Emeritus of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, USA, and author of Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics.
"This revolutionary book offers a blueprint for reform of oppressive family laws in a variety of global contexts, secular and religious, progressive and traditional. This is a handbook to be dog-eared by activists and a fascinating read elucidating how change happens even in the most traditional societies." – Madhavi Sunder, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, USA
"Born out of Women’s Learning Partnership’s (WLP) global campaign for family law reform, this anthology represents the richest compendium of comparative research on family laws. It combines rigorous research with clear objectives, drawing upon lessons learned and developing tools for advocacy and action. An essential resource for academics and activists alike." – Deniz Kandiyoti, Emeritus Professor of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK
"This collection of comparative studies provides a valuable road map through the labyrinth of family laws as they define the status of women in some countries of the global south, and of the feminist battles to reform them. The aim of these battles, though different from country to country, is ultimately one: to create new laws designed not only to provide gender equality in all matters, but also to protect women from the violence to which they are so often subjected." – Jean Said Makdisi, Writer
"Enlightening and heart-wrenching simultaneously, Feminist Advocacy is a truly cross-cultural tour de force, bringing together best of research and advocacy. It covers systematic violence and human rights abuses against women across many cultures and goes directly to the roots: it is all in the family laws. It is a must read." – Shahla Haeri, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Boston University, USA