Religious Exemptions to Equality
Questions about the political role of religions tend to bring debates about gender justice and equal citizenship, in terms of status, participation and belonging (cf. Siim, this volume), back to a core claim of fair laws. Globally, the political role of religions is at the centre of moral and political contestations, and religion-based denial of women’s equality rights is a topic of heated controversy in all international human-rights forums. One important strand of feminist concern with religion is tied to the citizenship status which might follow from particular accommodation politics. The problem has been coined in general terms by Aylet Shachar as a paradox of multicultural vulnerability: multiculturalism would actually present a threat to citizenship if pro-identity-group policies, aimed at levelling the playing field among minority groups and the larger society, systematically allow the maltreatment of
certain categories of group members, such as women, effectively annulling their citizenship status (Shachar 1999: 88).