Gender, Religion, and Family Law

Theorizing Conflicts between Women’s Rights and Cultural Traditions

Edited by Lisa Fishbayn Joffe and Sylvia Neil

In many regions of the world, rights guaranteed under the civil law, including rights to gender equality within marriage and rights in the distribution of family property and child custody upon divorce, are in conflict with the principles of religious law. Women’s rights issues are often at the heart of these tensions, which present pressing challenges for theorists, lawyers, and policymakers. This anthology brings together leading scholars and activists doing innovative work in Jewish law, Muslim law, Christian law, and African customary law. Using examples drawn from a variety of nations and religions, they interrogate the utility of recent theoretical models for engaging with gender and multicultural conflicts, explore contextual differences, and analyze and celebrate stories of successful initiatives that have transformed legal and cultural norms to improve women’s lives.

Paper: $40 | E-book: $39.99
ISBN-13: 9781611683264
Pages: 344 | Size: 6 in. x 9 in.
Date Published: November 22, 2012


  • A major contribution to the study of the global dimensions of the conflict between women’s rights and cultural traditions. Highly recommended to anyone interested in a deeper understanding of the theories pertaining to this multifaceted conflict as well as the individual, comparative and interdisciplinary dimensions of such conflict.

    Pnina Lahav
    Boston University
  • A pioneering book on the conflict between women’s rights and religious practices — in both theory and practice — with path-breaking and brilliant essays by Lisa Fishbayn, Martha Minow, Ayelet Schar and Pascale Fournier. The exciting reports of worldwide case studies include the groundbreaking initiatives of the pioneering lawyer-activist Susan Weiss on Jewish divorce law (in Israel), and fascinating chronicles of challenges in dealing with Islamic and customary African law. The result is a highly original and very exciting landmark book. It is destined to become the classic work in this newly emerging field.

    Lenore J. Weitzman
    author of “The Divorce Revolution: The Social and Economic Consequences for Women and Children in America

About the Author

Lisa Fishbayn

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe is the Director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University where she teaches in the Departments of Philosophy and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. She is also director of the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law that explores the tension between women’s equality claims and religious laws. Her research focuses on gender and multiculturalism in family law and on the intersection between …

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