Series on “Chained” Women

Two distinguished scholars, one from Israel and one from the United Kingdom, join us to discuss a landmark case, believed to be the first time the criminal justice system in the UK has been used on behalf of an agunah – a “chained” woman left unable to remarry according to Jewish law because her husband denies her a religious divorce.’*

Evoked in this case are issues not only of Jewish and British law, but of family law, religious autonomy, and women’s rights, with ”wide implications within the Orthodox Jewish community and potentially in other communities, when religious laws are abused . . . .’** (more…)

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Security Measures and the Gender Dimension of Freedom of Religion or Belief

Dr. Mine Yıldırım is Head of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s Freedom of Belief Initiative in Turkey

How do restrictions on the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) in your country affect women? Are women and men impacted differently by the same security measures? Usually, silence follows when these questions are posed to public officials, civil society organizations, and religious or belief community leaders. Then, though some examples may come to mind, the list of relevant issues rarely extends beyond highly visual restrictions, such as with the headscarf or the burka.

We do not yet have a comprehensive and systematic resource that provides of how the gender dimension of FoRB presents itself and how it should be monitored. Understanding this is particularly important for states and civil society organizations. States must protect the right to freedom of religion or belief for both men and women and must refrain from restrictive measures that disproportionately impact women or men. Likewise, civil society organizations strive to understand how women are impacted by these measures so that they can hold states accountable. (more…)

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Masterpiece Cakeshop: And the winner is … pluralism?

Elizabeth A. Clark is Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. She joined an amicus brief of 34 legal scholars in support of the cakeshop in this case

No one seems pleased with the result in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights CommissionIn significant ways, both those supporting Jack Phillips, the baker, and proponents of Charlie Craig and David Mullins, the same-sex couple, lost. On the one hand, the Supreme Court refused to grant unqualified protection to those who conscientiously object to providing goods and services to same-sex couples, and at the same time the court shut down efforts to assert that all forms of discrimination affecting same-sex couples should be labeled mere bigotry. The court pushed for a more pluralist approach, noting both that “gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth,” and that “[a]t the same time, the religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.” (more…)

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