“It is Your Right to Buy a Divorce: Judicial in Zanzibar” with Erin Stiles

Judicial khuluu (<Ar. khulc) in Zanzibar differs from judicial khulc in Arab countries that have recently introduced it through legislative reform. In Zanzibar’s Islamic courts, khuluu is used primarily as a judicial mechanism for ending a marriage when a judge determines a wife to be responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. Zanzibari women rarely file forkhuluu because it is expensive and is associated with a woman’s failure in her marriage. This talk explores why judges in Zanzibar regard khuluu as a punitive measure that can be used to end a marriage when a woman is determined to be responsible for the marital discord, or when there are no grounds for judicial dissolution through fasikhi (<Ar. faskh, annulment). Zanzibari judges view khuluu as a right that a woman can exercise to extricate herself from marriage, a right that they sometimes encourage in court.


Erin Stiles is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Nevada, where she also chairs the minor program in Religious Studies. Her research focuses on the intersections of religion, law, and gender, and she conducts fieldwork in East Africa and in Utah. Much of her research has examined Islamic legal practice, particularly concerning divorce and marital disputes, in Zanzibari kadhis’ courts.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at 12:30pm to 1:45pm

Edward B. Bunn, S.J. Intercultural Center, ACMCU Boardroom, ICC #270
37th and O St., N.W., Washington

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Academic Events


Students, Faculty/Staff, Alumni, Public


Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding


Erin Stiles

Open to the public and the press?


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Kevin Pruyn Bouley

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