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Title: Imaginary lines? : 'Islam', 'secularism', and the politics of family laws in Bangladesh
Author: Shahid, Tahrat Naushaba
ISNI:       0000 0004 6353 0631
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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With the world's fourth-largest Muslim population, Bangladesh is an important case study in the exploration of what it means to be a 'secular' country with Islam as a state religion. One important mechanism through which to analyse the relationship between religion and the state is through the country's laws, and family laws are especially significant in that they represent the state's determination of which long-standing social and religious practices find their way into legislation as a representation of societal values. As with many other countries with significant Muslim populations, personal status legislation has remained relatively static in the years following independence, despite attempts at change. Inspired by studies of negotiations between state and civil society actors in bringing about changes in law, this study analyses the evolution of family laws for Muslims in Bangladesh, revealing a range of voices using such laws in their negotiations between competing notions of 'Islam' and 'secularism' and their role in governance. Using parliamentary and Supreme Court records, newspaper archives, expert interviews, and secondary literature, I show that there has been little change in personal status legislation beyond procedural simplification, and that the judiciary and policymakers have had a tendency to support freedom of religious practice except in family laws. This study explores why this is the case, and focuses on the discourse around the National Women Development Policy and its clause on property and inheritance as the greatest point of contention in enhancing women's rights in family laws.
Supervisor: Frazer, Elizabeth ; Robinson, Francis Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Domestic relations--Bangladesh ; Islam and secularism ; Women--Bangladesh--Social conditions ; Bangladesh--Social policy ; Religion and state--Bangladesh ; Bangladesh--Politics and government--1971-