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Dr Huma Ahmed-Ghosh: Dilemmas of Islamic and Secular Feminists and Feminisms PDF Print E-mail

images/stories/IntCongressIslamicFem_header.png June 16 2010
Dilemmas of Islamic and Secular Feminists and Feminisms

Journal of International Women’s Studies
Vol. 9 #3 May 2008, pages 99-116
By images/stories/HumaAhmedGhosh.jpg Huma Ahmed-Ghosh
Associate Professor Department of Women's Studies Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies San Diego State University 5500 Campanile Drive San Diego, CA 92182 Tel: 619-594-3046 Fax: 619-594-5218

This paper explores ways in which a multifaceted understanding of Islamic feminism can contribute to productive dialogue about the future of Muslim women in both Islamic and secular states. Towards that end I will discuss the numerous interpretations of Islamic, secular, collaborative and hybrid feminisms that have surfaced in Islamic and non-Islamic nations. There is a pragmatic value to developing a standard for Islamic feminism that can be “modern” and held up to more oppressive local conditions/politics and their extremes of patriarchy. To do this, one needs a comprehensive review of what local oppressions exist in specific countries and what feminist angles can be brought together in a hybridized version. One needs to look at what coalitional functions can occur in different communities which can bring together Islamic, secular, and other discourses in a hybridized form that attend better to women’s lived lives and sense of personhood.

Note within page 113:
Religious extremism has empowered the family, the tribe, and the community (many times in opposition to the state) to dictate Islamic norms, and has led to private becoming the public domain in respect to women’s lives. Control of women through their sexuality is evidenced Afghanistan and Pakistan through the increase in honor killings,16 blood money, forced wearing of the burqa, increase in domestic violence, reduction in the age of marriage for girls, and an increase in polygamy. Various practices like bride price and swara (giving away of daughter to settle enmity) are banned. But these practices not only persist but also have seen a rise (perhaps due to higher reporting) in recent years. This, combined with the strengthening of a kin-based family system, further alienates women from their rights and/or an understanding of rights not just within a secular human rights framework but also those rights that are granted to her through the Quran. Dilemmas run rampant, not just amongst feminists but also policy makers and agents of social change who, while trying to theorize for a just society, find themselves swimming upstream.

Complete article HERE