Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cultural Densitivity

To Lakshmi Bai's account of the later-reversed decision in which a U.S. judge denied asylum to a battered wife, out of a skewed sense of cultural sensitivity, must be added this:
Judge Christa Datz-Winter has denied a fast-track divorce to a fellow German beaten by her husband. Setting out reasoning since condemned in and out of Germany, the judge did not follow law of the country where she and the unnamed woman, who happens to be Muslim, hold citizenship. Asserting that the "Koran ... sanctions such physical abuse," the judge applied her own understanding of the couple's "Moroccan cultural milieu, in which it is common for husbands to beat their wives." Datz-Winter relied on a verse that is at times translated to condone chastisement, though such translations have been questioned by some scholars, including Laleh Bakhtiar and UCLA's Khaled Abou El Fadl.
For thoughtful analysis of how courts might consider culture, turn to The Cultural Defense by our colleague Alison Renteln.

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