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Gender Discrimination for Religious Reasons in Islamic Countries and International Human Rights Treaties


Maryam Mosavi

Gender equality rights are fundamental human rights that are recognized in international human rights treaties, which bind states to eliminate gender discrimination formally and in practice. Islam is recognized as the official religion in the constitutional law of Islamic countries; religious scholars have the competence to interpret Islamic law, resulting in creating a series of unequal rights for women based on Islamic law, which often continues in legal structures. Nevertheless, a majority of Islamic countries have ratified the international human rights treaties but have put reservations in place based on Sharia concerning articles on gender equality rights. Therefore, this dissertation addressed that the degree to which international law has accepted gender discrimination for religious reasons.
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Chapter 2 Potential Violations of Gender Equality Based on Religion


Political participation is defined as citizens’ activities affecting politics and includes any voluntary and nonprofessional actions concerning government structures and politics. It is a necessary condition in democratic societies because it emphasizes the role of ordinary citizens in political affairs, so much that “where few take part in decisions there is little democracy; the more participation there is in decisions, the more democracy there is”.127 Therefore, the extent of political participation is a criterion for assessing the quality of democracy. Due to rapid social and political developments, the scope of political participation covers many new modes such as “voting, demonstrating, contacting public officials, boycotting, attending party rallies, guerrilla gardening, posting blogs, volunteering, joining flash mobs, signing petitions, buying fair-trade products, and even suicide protests.”128

Participation in political and public life is also known as the right of every citizen to take part in the conduct of public affairs. The conduct of public affairs relates to any process, directly or indirectly, in the legislative, executive/administrative, and judiciary branches of government. It also includes the formulation and implementation of policy at the international, national, regional, and local levels.129

Most importantly, the right to political participation must exercise without any discrimination. This right must not be restricted based on race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth, or another status.130 Moreover, it should not be subject to ‘unreasonable ←57 | 58→restrictions’; if any restriction exists, it should justify by domestic...

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