Women, the Koran and International Human Rights Law: The Experience of Pakistan
Religion plays a pivotal role in the way women are treated around the world, socially and legally. This book discusses three Islamic human rights approaches: secular, non-compatible, reconciliatory (compatible), and proposes a contextual interpretive approach. It is argued that the current gender discriminatory statutory Islamic laws in Islamic jurisdictions, based on the decontextualised interpretation of the Koran, can be reformed through "Ijtihad": independent individual reasoning. It is claimed that the original intention of the Koran was to protect the rights of women and raise their status in society, not to relegate them to subordination. This Koranic intention and spirit may be recaptured through the proposed contextual interpretation which in fact means using an Islamic (or insider) strategy to achieve gender equality in Muslim states and greater compatibility with international human rights law. It discusses the negative impact of the so-called statutory Islamic laws of Pakistan on the enjoyment of women's human rights and robustly challenges their Koranic foundation. While supporting the international human rights regime, this book highlights the challenges to its universality: feminism and cultural relativism. To achieve universal application, genuine voices from different cultures and groups must be accommodated. It is argued that the women's human rights regime does not cover all issues of concern to women and has a weak implementation mechanism. The book argues for effective implementation procedures to turn women's human rights into reality.
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