Contracting Human Rights
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Contracting Human Rights

Crisis, Accountability, and Opportunity

Edited by Alison Brysk and Michael Stohl

By chronicling the continuing contest over the reach, range, and regime of rights, Contracting Human Rights analyzes the way forward in an era of many challenges. This multidisciplinary book contributes to building understanding of the maturation of human rights, from a dissident doctrine to a dynamic parameter of global governance and civil society. Through an examination of both global and local challenges to human rights, including loopholes, backlash, accountability, and new opportunities to move forward, this book analyzes trends across multiple-issue areas.
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Chapter 16: Beyond global vs. local: Islam, feminism, and women’s rights in Morocco

Crisis, Accountability, and Opportunity

Jesilyn Faust


As we see a decrease in the observance and respect for human rights, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, it is easy to blame religious fundamentalism for these contractions. However, is this assumption accurate? Is the blame being correctly placed at the door of fundamentalism or should we look elsewhere? To answer this question, I look at two cases of women’s rights activism surrounding customary family law in Morocco between 2000–2014. In one case, women were successful at achieving the passage of meaningful legislation to improve women’s rights. In the second case, in spite of a great deal of international support, campaigning, and funding, women’s rights contracted. By comparing and contrasting these two cases, it becomes clear that a big difference between the two was the engagement of the Islamic Feminist movement. In many parts of the Middle East and North Africa, it is precisely by engaging with grassroots Islamic Feminists and moderates that international organizations will be able to combat the tide of extremism and the subsequent contraction of human rights.

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