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date: 28 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

There are three legal regimes that play a role in the policing of sex in the modern Arab world. These are state law, Islamic law, and customary law. For the most part, the regimes are cooperative rather than in perpetual conflict, largely because citizens are aware of which regime controls in which circumstance. Most notably, the customary law and its harsh penalties for actual or perceived violations of sex norms tend to dominate the social field. Islamic law plays a decidedly secondary role. The function of state law is largely limited to supporting the application of customary norms, in many cases through withdrawal from the field in a manner that will permit the customary authorities to carry out their own modalities of enforcement. This chapter describes the interplay among the three regimes. It further makes the point that in the absence of a change of preferences among citizens for this general division of jurisdiction, reforms of state law, or issuances of fatwas relating to sex policing, will on their own be of little moment, given the predominance of customary law and customary norms in the field.

Keywords: sex policing, Arab law, customary law, Islamic law, honor killings

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