Legal Pluralism, Human Rights and Islam in Norway
Making Norwegian Law Available, Accepable and Accessible to Women in a Multicultural Setting, by Ph.d.candidate Farhat Taj, Faculty of Law. This is a socio-legal study of law, culture and religion that explores the ‘internal discourse’ and ‘cross-cultural dialogue’ undertaken by two women’s NGOs in Norway. Les mer på norsk.
The NGOs adopt a context-sensitive approach to basic human rights to make the rights available, accessible and acceptable to the Norwegian-Pakistani women in their pursuit of the most appropriate contextual solutions to violations of their human rights concerning marriage and divorce.
Both Norwegian law and religion emerge as source and resource of power in the negotiations for human rights. A pluralistic approach to Islam that draws on multiple interpretations of the religious text conceptually complements Norwegian law in the negotiations for human rights, and leads to context-specific solutions that concur with the human rights demands of Norwegian law.
However, the contextual approach to human rights is also fraught with challenges to those rights. Even with a context-sensitive approach, women who are driven by their immediate needs and concerns may not consider the gender equality demands of their human rights and may opt for perceived solutions that reinforce gender discriminatory cultural and religious traditions.
This aspect of the context-sensitive approach to human rights clearly comes out in the thesis.
Moreover, Norwegian law is clearly a powerful tool for overcoming cultural, religious or familial hurdles to the women’s access to human rights. However, the women’s use of Norwegian law to access their human rights entitlements is not always motivated by their belief in the rights entitlement per se, but by other causes, such as revenge.
The thesis underscores the need for more micro-level research studies to provide empirical and theoretical insights into the broader social and political debates about Muslim women's human rights in the Western democracies.