Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2011

Publication Citation

18 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 145 (2011)


Examining cross-national variation in family law, we find that many countries have reformed to promote sex equality. Yet a significant group retains older laws that discriminate against women. These variations reflect the diverse institutional legacies of these societies, conforming closely-but not entirely-to inherited legal traditions: civil law, common law, and postsocialist countries are the most egalitarian, while countries applying religious law are the least. Yet change is possible, even in unlikely contexts. Political conjunctures that disarm religious, nationalist, and fundamentalist opponents can open windows of opportunity for liberalizing reform.

Human Rights and Legal Systems Across the Global South, Symposium, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Bloomington, Indiana. 9-10 April 2010.