Cultural Oppression Disguised as Religious Obligation: A Fatal Misrepresentation to the Advancement of Muslim Women’s Rights in the Context of the So-Called Honour Killings

Dr

Fatemah AlBader

(She/Her)

Assistant Professor

Faculty of Law & Governance

Kuwait University

Fatemah Albader has published with numerous international journals, including the Berkeley Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Law, Tsinghua China Law Review, UCLA Asian Pacific American Law Journal, and Minnesota Journal of International Law.
Kuwaiti

Overview

It is culture and not religion that results in the hinderance of women’s rights in Muslim-majority countries and Muslim populations.

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Key Findings

    How to apply research

    • Victim-blaming causes women who are accused of dishonour to turn themselves in to law enforcement, concluding that prison time is better than death at the hands of their family.
    • State legislation, consistent with international law obligations, is required to ensure the protection of women from honour killings through tackling impunity.
    • Spreading awareness that honour killings are not sanctioned by Islam would slowly eradicate the practice of honour killings among cultures that still practice it over time.

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    About this research

      This research was independently conducted and did not receive funding from outside of the university.

      Recommended for

      About this research

        This research was independently conducted and did not receive funding from outside of the university.

        Recommended for

        What findings means

        The advancement of women’s rights among Muslim populations is hindered by the presupposition that Islam limits women’s rights. Historically, however, Islam has furthered women’s rights. The culprit lies in the interplay of culture with religion.

        It is culture and not religion that results in the hinderance of women’s rights in Muslim-majority countries and Muslim populations. The dangers of perceiving cultural norms as religious ones is apparent. First and foremost, it is more difficult to advance Muslim women’s rights if the hinderance is perceived as resulting from religion, from a divine power. Thus, dangerous complexities arise when purely cultural practices are mixed with religion. One area in which religious and cultural practices co-exist to the detriment of women’s rights is in the practice of honour killings, inaccurately perceived as an Islamically-authorised practice.

        In looking at honour killings as one example, my paper aims to correct the discourse that religion hinders women’s rights. Instead, the paper focuses on culture as the real culprit, concluding with suggestions with how best to counter purely cultural practices that hinder the advancement of women’s rights.

        Methodology

        These findings were based on a critical literature review.

        Findings were based on the authors own interpretation of the literature.

        Glossary

        ConceptDefinition
        Honour killingHonour Killing is the practice of murdering a member of a family—often a daughter, sister, mother, or wife—who is regarded as having brought shame upon the family. Such dishonour may include acts of adultery, pre-marital sexual relations, and any such acts of defiance that are considered to undermine male honour.

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        Want to read the full paper? It is available open access

        AlBader, F. (2020). Cultural Oppression Disguised as Religious Obligation: A Fatal Misrepresentation to the Advancement of Muslim Women’s Rights in the Context of the So-Called Honor Killings. Asian Pacific American Law Journal, 24.