Middle East Studies
English edition  
November  2017
224 pp.
15X23 cm
ISBN 9789774167751
For sale worldwide


Gender Justice and Legal Reform in Egypt

Negotiating Muslim Family Law Mulki Al-Sharmani

A rich multidimensional study of Muslim family law reform and gender justice in Egypt

In Egypt's modern history, reform of personal status laws has often formed an integral part of political, cultural, and religious contestations among different factions of society. From the beginning of the twenty-first century, two significant reforms were introduced in Egyptian personal status laws: women’s right to petition for no-fault judicial divorce law (khul‘) and the new mediation-based family courts. Gender Justice and Legal Reform examines the interplay between legal reform and gender norms and practices. It examines the processes of advocating for, and contesting the khul‘ and new family courts laws, shedding light on the agendas and strategies of the various actors involved. It also examines the ways in which women and men have made use of these legal reforms; how judges and other court personnel have interpreted and implemented them; and how the reforms may have impacted women and men’s understandings, expectations, and strategies when navigating marriage and spousal roles. Drawing on an extensive four-year field study, Al-Sharmani highlights the complexities and mixed impacts of legal reform, not only as a mechanism of claiming gender rights but also as a system of meanings that shape, destabilize, or transform gender norms and practices.

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Mulki Al-Sharmani is an Academy of Finland research fellow and docent at the Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki. She is the editor of Feminist Activism: Women’s Rights and Legal Reform, and co-editor of Men in Charge? Rethinking Authority in Muslim Legal Tradition. Her research interests include Muslim family law and gender activism in Egypt, Islamic feminism, and transnational Muslim marriages in Europe.

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"Al-Sharmani's study is a delight to read: vividly written, carefully constructed and theorised, packed with engaging detail arising from her close engagement with people and procedure, and her ability to situate insights drawn there in the frame of wider judicial debates and advocacy efforts. A considerable and most welcome addition to the literature on Egypt's new family courts and laws, and one that I would strongly recommend."—Lynn Welchman, SOAS, University of London

"This is legal anthropology at its best. Al-Sharmani tells the story of how Muslim family law was recently reformed in Egypt, focusing on the ratification of no-fault divorce (khul‘) in 2000 and the establishment of new family courts in 2004. She shows how these reforms worked in practice, relating the experiences of many of those who went to the new courts to solve their marital disputes. It is a fascinating and complex story, and it is told with authority and style."—Ziba Mir-Hosseini, SOAS, University of London

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