POLITICAL FACTIONS, IDEOLOGICAL FICTIONS: THE CONTROVERSY OVER FAMILY LAW REFORM IN DEMOCRATIC MALI

in Islamic Law and Society
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Abstract

The article examines debates surrounding the current family law reform in Mali to account for the way in which broader processes of social change, an international and national context of women's rights activism, as well as various interest groups will shape the ultimate outcome of legislative reform. The article focuses on the five main components of the proposed reform and analyzes the positions of the most important groups participating in the debate: women's rights activists supported by the international women's movement and international donor organizations, protagonists of the two influential wings of the national Muslim organization, and representatives of the state administration. It is argued that although state officials and protagonists of an "Islamic" position hold divergent ideological and normative orientations, they form temporary and shifting alliances around certain issues, often on the basis of pragmatic considerations. Also, while women's rights activists and "Muslim women" claim to represent women tout court, the positions and arguments of the former can be seen as representing particularistic, class-specific interests.

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