State Power, Religion, and Women's Rights: A Comparative Analysis of Family Law

Htun, Mala; Weldon, S. Laurel
January 2011
Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies;Winter2011, Vol. 18 Issue 1, p145
Academic Journal
Examining cross-national variation in family law, we find that many countries have reformed to promote sex equality. Yet a significant group retains older laws that discriminate against women. These variations reflect the diverse institutional legacies of these societies, conforming closely-but not entirely-to inherited legal traditions: civil law, common law, and postsocialist countries are the most egalitarian, while countries applying religious law are the least. Yet change is possible, even in unlikely contexts. Political conjunctures that disarm religious, nationalist, and fundamentalist opponents can open windows of opportunity for liberalizing reform.


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