Gender, Sexuality, Islam & Science – Spring 2023
– | Comments Off on Gender, Sexuality, Islam & Science – Spring 2023

This reading & discussion course will create a space for participants to reflect on and debate critical perspectives in the development of discourses on gender and feminism across the world. The readings explore the variety …

Read the full story »
News on Sexual & Bodily Rights

Resources & Tools

News from Member Organizations

CSBR Activities


Home » Featured, Headline, News from Member Organizations, News on Sexual & Bodily Rights, Resources & Tools

Sexual Politics in Muslim Societies: Studies from Palestine, Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia

Submitted by on – No Comment

“Why have Muslim majority states become increasingly conservative over time, acting to reverse many hard won advances on women’s rights and those concerning gender diverse populations? How has this happened despite vigorous efforts by activists, civil society organizations and social movements in general? What are the factors that have contributed to state-sanctioned surveillance and policing of sexual morality? Is this rightward shift the result of a backlash to the success of gender and sexual rights activism? In what ways have these moves been resisted or accommodated?” 


CSBR is pleased to announce the publication of Sexual Politics in Muslim Societies (2017), an updated edited volume of original research carried out by CSBR members in Palestine, Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia. From diverse vantage points, this volume explores complex questions on the factors that have contributed to increasing conservatism and fundamentalism against women’s rights and LGBT rights–including state-sanctioned surveillance and the policing of sexual morality–across diverse Muslim societies during the early 2000s.

In the first study on Palestine, Femicide and Racism, Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian and Suhad Daher-Nashif situate their fine-grained analysis of the “local” firmly within the broader context of Israeli settler colonialism, and the effects of the “War on Terror” and “Islamophobia”. The authors seek to analyze the intersection of formal and informal legal systems in the understanding of femicide or the murder of Palestinian women by family members. Conventionally such murders are framed as a purely “cultural” issue, the outcome of local patriarchal attitudes toward women and morality. The authors eschew this narrow framing, arguing instead that localized manifestations of patriarchal and masculine logics are empowered by processes of exclusion at both local and global levels.

In An Analysis of the ‘Conservative Democracy’ of the Justice and Development Party (JDP)–Pinar Ilkkaracan skillfully unpacks the rhetorical strategies used by the incumbent JDP to strategically deploy a secular discourse to restrict and police political and social/sexual dissent in Turkey. The chapter highlights the rise of crackdowns on women’s rights and LGBT organizations, and the strength and power of feminist and queer organizing.

In Moral Policing in Malaysia, Julian C.H. Lee and tan beng hui present a sophisticated historical and sociological account of the rise of state sanctioned moral policing, situated within multiple and intersecting histories. Their analysis sheds light the state’s determination to create an “ideal” Muslim citizen, and the impacts of Islamization on the political system, the courts, and civil society organizing in Malaysia.

In the final study, Women’s Sexuality and the debates on the Anti-Pornography Bill, Andy Yentriyani & Neng Dara Affiah present a compelling analysis of the rhetorical stakes in debates around a controversial Anti-Pornography bill that, in a modified form, was passed into Indonesian law in 2008. The authors contextualizes these debates in relation to Indonesia’s history of militarised authoritarianism, shifting state representations of the ideal Indonesian woman and popular resistance to the perceived imposition of a monolithic Indonesian Muslim identity—smuggled in through a law purportedly for the protection of morality.

As a collective research program amongst CSBR members, the methodology was designed to take into account the specific historical, political and sociological complexities of each national context. The comparative aspect of the project was critical in this respect. Together, with the introduction Sexuality as Difference? by Dina M. Siddiqi, this volume illuminates the unstable terrain and shifting constraints that sexual and bodily rights activists in Muslim societies navigate everyday.

The analysis “refuses easy oppositions and fixed definitions of Islam, culture or rights. It calls for us to be open to improbable alliances and strategies. These researchers are critically aware that there are no ‘pure’ spaces of indigeneity or of rights, that meaning is derived from the political and discursive framing of problems. Traversing as they do geographically diverse and historically distinct contexts, they remind us of the necessity to be vigilant of the analytical and conceptual lens we bring to bear on our scholarship and activism.”


Download the full publication: Sexual Politics in Muslim Societies (2017)


*     *     *     *     *

CSBR would like to thank everyone who contributed to this collective project over the years. Especially Pinar Ilkkaracan, who initiated, coordinated and led the four-year research program on which this volume is based, providing core support and guidance to the research teams. This volume would not have been possible without the energy, commitment and dedication of each of the country partners and their vantage points embedded within national women’s rights, human rights and sexual rights movements. Credit is due to l’Association Tunisienne des Femmes Démocrates (ATFD), Helem, KOMNAS Perempuan, Mada Al-Carmel, Sisters in Islam (SIS), and Women for Women’s Human Rights—New Ways (WWHR). While logistical reasons prevented us from including the Tunisia and Lebanon studies in this volume, the work by those teams was integral to informing the analysis and synthesis of the overall project.

This volume is dedicated to Zaitun ‘Toni’ Kasim, whose political vision and unwavering commitment to human rights has guided so many in our network. Toni was an integral part of this project from its inception, and she continues to inspire us in our movements for rights and justice.

Comments are closed.