Re-Reading Muslim Women’s Rights in Bangladesh


Religious interpretations play an important role in women’s life. Misconceptions about Muslim women’s rights have become norms in many countries. This paper explores the conventional interpretation of women’s rights by interviewing both male and female madrassa teachers and mosque Imams in the capital city Dhaka in Bangladesh. We have used two instruments to collect data: in-depth interviews and focus-group discussions. The study finds that the patriarchal male values tend to dominate in providing explanations of women’s rights. Such maledominated views are constructed and reconstructed by misreading certain sections of religious text, and thus conceal an appropriate religious interpretation of women’s rights. The adverse effect of such misinterpretation of religious text is enormous. It devalues women’s agency and work; and exposes women to numerous challenges throughout their lifecycle. This paper concludes with an observation that Muslim women’s subordination is not rooted in either religion or in tradition, rather, in patriarchal influence and arbitrariness, which have been dominating them for centuries.

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