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Growing Religious Fundamentalism a Threat to Women's Rights in Southeast Asia

Growing religious fundamentalism in Southeast Asia is pushing women further into traditional roles. According to Noviscape, "among Muslim communities in Southeast Asia, there has been a rise in conservative Islamic forces, delimiting women’s freedom by reinscribing a strict dress code, prohibiting conversion, and placing restrictions around marriage across religious groups."

"In Indonesia and Malaysia, limits have been placed on movement of women through legislation. The influence of religion on government policy, particularly on sexual rights, has also been strong."

"In the Philippines, the state advocates the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings on contraceptives and abortion. Although the state might not overtly promote conservative notions of women’s role in the family, it subtly reinforces gender inequality in the family by promoting a natalist position, and, in turn, curtails opportunities for women’s participation in the public sphere. Furthermore, the influence of Catholic fundamentalism is evident in family law where the rights and obligations of spouses are unequal."

Implications:

"Negotiating changing female identities in the modern world will be a delicate issue for debate, especially in the context where religious diversity, women’s rights, and the rule of law intersect. Instead “sacred spaces” created by women rather than religious traditions dominated by men will promote and nurture new roles and identities for women in society."

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