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Islamic courts and women’s divorce rights in Indonesia

What role do the Islamic courts play in protecting women’s divorce rights? How do they perform with regard to spousal support, child support and marital property? Stijn van Huis defends his PhD thesis on September 8, 2015

In recent years opinion-makers in the ‘West’ have voiced their concerns about ‘the sharia’ and the position of women therein. The often-heart proposition is that ‘sharia’ or Islamic law is gender-unequal in nature. At the same time, the Islamic court system in Indonesia, which applies Islamic family law, receives substantial support from ‘Western’ donor organizations. In the eyes of these organizations the Indonesian Islamic courts play an essential role in enhancing women’s rights.

In his dissertation Stijn van Huis addresses questions that intend to enhance our understanding of how Islamic courts in Indonesia work and why they have the potential to transform societal norms. What role do the Islamic courts play in protecting women’s divorce rights? How do they perform with regard to spousal support, child support and marital property and why? How do the Islamic courts treat women’s and men’s claims? How has Indonesian family law for Muslims developed and what is the role of the Islamic courts in this development?

Stijn van Huis attempts to provide answers to those questions by exploring the Islamic courts’ institutional history, the development of the substantive law they apply, and the socio-cultural and economic aspects of divorce. He demonstrates that in order to understand how Islamic courts work, they should be studied as a distinctive judicial tradition that, in essential ways, is different from Islamic doctrine. It is the judge, not the  ­ulama, who transforms family law doctrine: some issues in rather gender-equal ways and others strictly according to classical Islamic doctrine.

Practical information

Supervisor 
Prof. J.M. Otto

Date and location  
Stijn van Huis defends his PhD thesis on Tuesday, September 8 2015, 11.15 uur, Academiegebouw Rapenburg 73, Leiden 

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