Academic journal article Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law

Historical Determinism and Women's Rights in Sharia Law

Academic journal article Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law

Historical Determinism and Women's Rights in Sharia Law

Article excerpt

Although women's rights in many countries reflect Sharia Law, the interpretation of Sharia Law is not uniform across these countries. a result, not all countries that follow Sharia Law protect women's rights to the same degree. We can hypothesize that the interpretation of Sharia Law in various countries, and therefore the protection of women's rights, is determined by the historical forces that have shaped that country's cultural life. To test this hypothesis, this Note traces the history of three countries in order to explore what led each country to develop vastly different beliefs surrounding the rights of women under Sharia law. Although historical determinism is a tricky concept, I believe the evidence suggests that between the identity of the colonizer, who fills the power vacuum after the colonizer is forced to leave, and the country's desire to westernize have the greatest effects on the rights granted to women.

I.     INTRODUCTION

II.    COMPARISON OF RIGHTS AND PUNISHMENTS

       A.   RIGHTS IN DIVORCE

            i.     Saudi Arabia
            ii.    Libya
            iii.   Tunisia

       B.   RIGHTS IN INHERITANCE

            i.     Saudi Arabia
            ii.    Libya
            iii.   Tunisia

       C.   PUNISHMENT FOR ADULTERY

            i.     Saudi Arabia
            ii.    Libya
            iii.   Tunisia

III.   TRACING THE HISTORY

       A.   SAUDI ARABIA

            i.    Historical Background
            ii.   Hypothesizing History's Effects on Today

       B.   LIBYA

            i.    Historical Background
            ii.   Hypothesizing History's Effects on Today

       C.   TUNISIA

            i.     Historical Background
            iii.   Hypothesizing History's Effects on Today

IV.    CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION

Around the world women's rights seem to be improving, albeit at an uneven pace. As difficult as it is to understand the factors that determine the scope and pace of women's rights, such a determination is even more difficult when the subject is women's rights in Islamic countries. In those countries the role of women is governed in varying degrees by religious Sharia law. Yet even in Islamic countries and more specifically, within their interpretations of Sharia law, they differ in their treatment of women and the laws relating to their rights. These disparities are largely apparent and with enough information we ought to be able to create a hypothesis about what accounts for the differing treatments of women in different countries.

It is therefore worthwhile to consider what factors may account for different attitudes towards women, even in countries that at least nominally share a common culture and religion. This topic is complex because Sharia law has vastly different implementations and interpretations across the numerous Islamic countries. These differences are visible through not only the distinct laws in place but also in the world human rights arena.

This Note reviews the historical, social, and religious history of three Islamic countries in order to develop workable hypotheses about the factors that influenced the development of women's rights. This paper examines the factors that determined the attitude towards Sharia law with respect to women's rights in three former members of the Ottoman Empire: Tunisia, Libya, and Saudi Arabia. Each of these countries represents a different approach to the role that Sharia law plays in the lives of women. In Section II I discuss deviations in Sharia law interpretation and examine what factors might have led to those differences, by first comparing and contrasting the right along three dimensions: divorce rights, property rights for inheritance, and punishment for adultery. Next, in Section III, I will explore the histories of these three countries in an attempt to trace factors that have played integral roles in each country's development and the rights of women today, while hypothesizing what caused each country to diverge from the others. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.