This groundbreaking book explores resistance against the harsh policing of sexuality in some Muslim societies. Many Muslim majority countries still use religious discourse to enforce stigmatization and repression of those, especially women, who do not conform to sexual norms promoted either by the state or by non-state actors. In this context, Islam is often stigmatized in Western discourse for being intrinsically restrictive with respect to women's rights and sexuality.
The authors show that conservative Muslim discourse does not necessarily match practices of believers or of citizens and that women's empowerment is facilitated where indigenous and culturally appropriate strategies are developed. Using case studies from Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, China, Bangladesh, Israel and India, they argue persuasively that Muslim religious traditions do not necessarily lead to conservative agendas but can promote emancipatory standpoints.
An intervention to the construction of 'Muslim women' as uniformly subordinate, this collection spearheads an unprecedented wake of organizing around sexualities in Muslim communities.
Anissa Helie is assistant professor in history at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York. She is involved with various women's organizations and transnational networks, serving as director of the Women Living Under Muslim Laws International Coordination Office from 2000 to 2005. She is co-author (with Jan Bauer) of Documenting Women's Rights Violations by Non-State Actors: Experiences of Activists from Muslim Communities (2006). Homa Hoodfar is a professor of anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal. Her publications include: Health as a Context for Social and Gender Activism: Female Volunteer Health Workers in Iran (2010); Women, Religion and the 'Afghan Education Movement' in Iran (2008); Between Marriage and the Market: Intimate Politics and Survival in Cairo (2005); and The Muslim Veil in North America: Issues and Debates (2003).
Introduction: Policing gender, sexuality and 'Muslimness' - Anissa Helie PART I: Tools of policing: the politics of history, community, law 1. The politicization of women's bodies in Indonesia: sexual scripts as charters for action - Vivienne Wee 2. Iranian women and shifting sexual ideologies, 1850-2010 - Claudia Yaghoob 3. Moral panic: the criminalization of sexuality in Pakistan - Hooria Hayat Khan 4. The promise and pitfalls of women challenging Muslim family laws in India and Israel - Yuksel Sezgin 5. Sexuality and inequality: the marriage contract and Muslim legal tradition - Ziba Mir-Hosseini PART II: Sites of contestation: reclaiming public spaces 6. Purity, sexuality and faith: Chinese women ahong and women's mosques as shelter and strength - Maria Jaschok with Shui Jingjun 7. Veiled transcripts: the private debate on public veiling in Iran - Shadi Sadr 8. Kicking back: the sports arena and sexual politics in Iran - Homa Hoodfar 9. Morality policing and the public sphere: women reclaiming their bodies and their rights - Homa Hoodfar and Ana Ghoreishian 10. 'Living sexualities': non-hetero female sexuality in urban middle-class Bangladesh - Shuchi Karim 11. Risky rights? Gender equality and sexual diversity in Muslim contexts - Anissa Helie