, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 323-343
Date: 22 Oct 2008

Personal Status Laws in Morocco and Tunisia: A Comparative Exploration of the Possibilities for Equality-Enhancing Reform in Bangladesh

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Abstract

This paper focuses on successful reform strategies invoked in parts of the Muslim world to address issues of gender inequality in the context of Islamic personal law. It traces the development of personal status laws in Tunisia and Morocco, exploring the models they offer in initiating equality-enhancing reforms in Bangladesh, where a secular and equality-based reform approach conflicts with Islamic-based conservatism. Recent landmark family law reforms in Morocco show the possibility of achieving ‘women-friendly’ reforms within an Islamic legal framework. Moreover, the Tunisian Personal Status Code, with its successive reforms, shows that a gender equality-based model of personal law can be successfully integrated into the Muslim way of life. This study examines the response of Muslim societies to equality-based reforms and differences in approach in initiating them. The paper maps these sometimes competing approaches, locating them within contemporary feminist debates related to gender equality in the East and West.