Sharia and Shah Bano: Multiculturalism and Women's Rights

By Philips, Amali | Anthropologica, July 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Sharia and Shah Bano: Multiculturalism and Women's Rights


Philips, Amali, Anthropologica


Abstract: This article is a comparative examination of the 2005 sharia controversy surrounding the establishment of faith-based arbitration in Ontario, Canada, and a similar controversy in India after the 1985 Supreme Court Ruling favouring the claim of Shah Bano, a Muslim woman who challenged her husband in court for extended maintenance in contravention of Muslim Personal Law. I use the two controversies to interrogate the contentious issue of group rights and women's rights with particular reference to religious-based personal laws. The two cases demonstrate the patriarchal aspects of personal laws in the private and public realms and their politicization in the public realm. They also underscore the limits of multiculturalism in its potential to deal with the impacts of multicultural accommodation of group rights on the equality rights of women within these groups. My paper emphasizes the need to move beyond multiculturalism and highlights the strategic importance of mainstreaming feminist citizenship and human rights discourses into legal norms and practices relating to family law issues in multicultural societies.

Keywords: multiculturalism, personal laws, women's rights, cultural rights

Résumé : Cet article fait un examen comparatif de la controverse de 2005 sur la charia, autour de la création de tribunaux religieux d'arbitrage familial, en Ontario, au Canada, et une controverse similaire en Inde, suite à la décision de 1985 de la Cour Suprême qui donnait raison à la revendication de Shah Bano, une femme musulmane qui poursuivait son mari pour l'avoir maintenue pour une longue période de temps en contravention avec la Muslim Personal Law (c.-à-d. la charia). J'utilise les deux controverses pour interroger la question litigieuse des droits collectifs et des droits des femmes en référant particulièrement aux lois sur les personnes à fondement religieux. Les deux exemples démontrent les aspects patriarcaux des lois sur les personnes dans les domaines privé et public, et leur politisation dans le domaine public. Ils soulignent aussi les limites du multiculturalisme dans son potentiel à gérer les impacts de l'accommodement multieulturel des droits collectifs sur le droit à l'égalité des femmes au sein de ces groupes. Mon article souligne le besoin d'aller audelà du multiculturalisme et met en lumière l'importance stratégique d'intégrer les discours féministes sur la citoyenneté et les droits humains dans les normes et pratiques juridiques relatives aux enjeux de loi familiale dans les sociétés multiculturelles.

Mots-Clés : multiculturalisme, lois sur les personnes, droits des femmes, droits culturels

Introduction

This article traces the unfolding and outcome of the sharia controversy in Ontario, Canada and the Shah Bano conflict in India to discuss then- siimlarities and differences in relation to the key issues of women's rights, cultural rights and identity poUtics in multicultural settings. Specifically, I draw insights from the two cases to examine their implications for multiculturalism and women's rights as equal citizens.

The rights of cultural minorities and the ideals and values of democratic citizenship are two areas that have received considerable attention in recent times (KymUcka and Norman 2000). They are also the areas that have caused the most tension in Canada and countries such as France, England and Germany with a significant number of immigrants. In these countries, personal laws and other cultural symbols (e.g., veüing) have become the battleground for the defense of purportedly "authentic" religious and ethnic traditions and identities, with gender often being the focal point in these battles. MulticulturaUsm has provided a context for groups to negotiate their coUective cultural rights and citizenship rights as part of multicultural accommodation and equality of citizenship (see Asad 2006; Kepel 2004; Soysal 2001; Turner 1993; Wilson 1997; Yuval-Davis 1997).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sharia and Shah Bano: Multiculturalism and Women's Rights
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.