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Islam, Gender, and Democracy in Comparative Perspective$
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Jocelyne Cesari and José Casanova

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198788553

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198788553.001.0001

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Law, Gender, and Nation

Law, Gender, and Nation

Muslim Women and the Discontents of Legal Pluralism in India

Chapter:
(p.188) 8 Law, Gender, and Nation
Source:
Islam, Gender, and Democracy in Comparative Perspective
Author(s):

Vrinda Narain

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198788553.003.0009

Contemporary democracies have emphasized the recognition of religious and cultural diversity through policies of multiculturalism that recognize minority rights. In this regard, the status of Muslim women in a democracy with multiple legal systems, such as India, is representative of these new forms of democratic politics. While the Indian constitution guarantees equality to all citizens in the public sphere, in the private sphere of the family, the state enforces explicitly discriminatory personal laws as a demonstration of its commitment to minority rights, posing serious challenges for Muslim women’s equality. In this context, evaluating the success of legal pluralism through the implementation of Muslim personal law cannot ignore the negative impact of this understanding of legal pluralism on gender equality. Against this backdrop, this chapter examines how notions of secularism, religious freedom, and the protection of minority rights mediate the legal status of Muslim women in India.

Keywords:   gender equality, Indian constitution, legal pluralism, minority rights, Muslim personal law

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