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Excluded from the Law: Muslim Women in Religious Courts in Israel

Rawia Aburabia

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The second event in the UCLA Nazarian Center's "Women on the Margins of Israel" lecture series features a talk from Dr. Rawia Aburabia on how the Israeli Penal Code suppresses Muslim women in Israel.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM (Pacific Time)
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After registering, you will be emailed a meeting link and ID information to join us virtually via Zoom on your computer, tablet or smartphone, or to call into the event on your phone. If you do not receive your email confirmation, check your spam or junk mail folders.

Note: This live event will be recorded and posted online afterward for later viewing on the Y&S Nazarian Center's multimedia page.

This event is organized by the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and co-sponsored by the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies.

About the Talk

Polygamy is a criminal offense according to the Israeli Penal Code. Yet, polygamy is permitted under the Shari’a law, which governs Muslims' personal status issues such as marriage and divorce in Israel. This contradiction between the way Muslim religious law and Israeli criminal law treat polygamy demonstrates a key problem in Israel’s adoption of the colonial legal framework of legal pluralism (when two or more legal systems coexist in the same social field). Relegating personal status issues such as marriage and divorce to the religious courts, Israel’s legal pluralism has become a contentious issue affecting Israelis of all religions. In this talk, Professor Aburabia will examine the unique way in which Israel’s legal pluralism affects Muslim women. By focusing on the case of polygamy, she will show how Israel’s legal pluralism reinforces patriarchal values and the subjugation of women through the religious courts while depriving women of access to justice and the enforcement of the rule of law of the Israeli criminal code.

 About the Speakers

Rawia Aburabia is an Assistant Professor of law at Sapir College School of Law, and a visiting scholar at Aix Marseille University and the Institute for Research and Studies on the Arab and Muslim World (IREMAM) at Aix-en-Provence. She earned her Ph.D. from the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in an interdisciplinary doctoral program “Human Rights under Pressure- Ethics, Law, and Politics” which was jointly held by the Hebrew University and the Freie Universität Berlin. Aburabia received her LL.M in International Human Rights Law from the American University Washington College of Law, Washington, DC. Aburabia teaches and researches in the fields of family law, international human rights law, feminist jurisprudence, and minority rights.  Aburabia has received several awards for her academic and feminist work. She was awarded the Ma'of scholarship of the council of higher education for outstanding Arab Scholars (2020), and the Polonsky post-doctoral fellowship (2019). Aburabia was selected by Globes Magazine's “40 under 40” most promising young leaders in Israel (2018), and by 972 Magazine's “Person of the Year: Woman Activists of the Arab World” (2011). Aburabia practiced as a human rights attorney for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and has been at the forefront of several civil rights initiatives, concerning the unrecognized Bedouin villages and Bedouin women’s rights in Israel.


Dr. Tamar Hofnung (moderator) is a political sociologist specializing in the politics shaping gender and racial equality policies in Israel and the United States. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science with a specialization in Human Rights from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has conducted her postdoctoral studies as a Rothschild fellow at UC Berkeley’s Department of Sociology. She is currently a teaching and research fellow at the Y&S Nazarian center for Israel studies, working on affirmative action, and violence against women policies in Israel and the United States. Her most current research project examines the impact of unsystematic data gathering — and the lack of evaluation guidelines — on policymaking related to diversity and discrimination in Israel.



DISCLAIMER: The views or opinions of our guest speakers and the content of their presentations do not necessarily reflect the views of the UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. Hosting speakers does not constitute an endorsement of the speaker's views or opinions.


Sponsor(s): Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies, Center for Near Eastern Studies