Reservations raised by Islamic countries are mainly on the grounds that some of the Articles in the CEDAW violates Muslim law – the Sharia’t.. By claiming that the Sharia’t is inviolate, Reservations by Islamic countries on the CEDAW serve to perpetuate gender discrimination and the continued subjugation of women.
CEDAW provides a universally accepted platform to combat gender inequality by addressing the issue of discrimination in various fields. CEDAW defines discrimination as, "Any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field" (Wikipedia). In implementing the above, Reservations raised on the CEDAW can be broadly categorized as those arising out of incompatibility with existing domestic legislation, on practical grounds and those that are contrary to the Sharia’t.
Incompatibility with National Laws. …
Ireland, on the other hand has reserved its right to maintain its domestic provisions on social security as existing laws are more favourable to women.
Problems with Implementation. Some of the Reservations are more practical in nature. India, for example, while fully supporting CEDAW and the principle of compulsory reporting of marriages, has expressed its inability to do so due to various reasons including inadequate administrative back-up, low levels of literacy and poverty. Similarly, countries having a federal form of governance, have sought more time to bring in suitable legislation that would make the provisions of the CEDAW applicable across the board. These reservations do not, therefore, reject the aims and objectives of the CEDAW but only highlight the efforts being made by such countries to do away with gender discrimination.
Conflict with the Sharia’t. Reservations that are incompatible with the provisions of the Sharia’t are, however, the most common and mostly emanate from Islamic countries. For example, Bahrain has reserved its right to implement the CEDAW only within the bounds of the Sharia’t. Bangladesh, another Islamic country, commits that it does not consider itself bound by the provisions of the CEDAW as they conflict with Sharia’t law based on the holy Quran. By mixing religion and human rights, in particular those of women, the influence of religious institutions over interpretation and application of Muslim women’s roles and rights are over emphasized. These contradictory policies towards gender equality have made the CEDAW irrelevant in Islamic countries.
Reservations on certain articles of the CEDAW in no way dilute the importance of