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Divorce Reform in the Sharia Court of Appeals in Israel (1992-2003)

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In this article, I study Article 130 of the Ottoman Family Law, which is still applied in Israel, with special attention to developments within the Sharia Court of Appeals between the years 1992 and 2003. I argue that this Court has encouraged reform regarding the issue of niza wa-shiqāq (quarrel and disagreement). This reform has four main components. First, it entails a weakening of the patriarchal concept that limits a woman's role within Muslim society, her authority over her body, and her movements. Second, it eases the burden of proof by lowering evidentiary requirements. Third, it improves the procedure of arbitration by better defining the suitability of the arbitrators and supervising the methods of their work. Fourth, it enables the Sharia Court to nominate arbitrators and control their decisions. This reform has improved women's rights to divorce and has made divorce a relatively easy option. The reform also makes it easier for both men and women to obtain divorce, particularly as compared to other religious minorities in Israel.


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