Belgium just banned kosher and halal slaughter in its biggest territory | The Independent

8 May 2017 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Michigan doctors charged in first federal genital mutilation case in US

23 April 2017 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

“In the first federal case involving female genital mutilation filed in the United States, two Michigan doctors and the wife of one of the doctors have been charged with performing the banned procedure on two 7-year-old girls.”

How come fgm/c is said to happen quite often, even among migrants in the US and in Europe, while prosecution hardly ever happens? Are these cases so difficult to detect? Is evidence unreliable? Doesn’t the police pay attantion to it?

In this case, CNN reports: “The Detroit Free Press reported from the hearing that Smith said her client removed membrane from the girls’ genital area using a “scraper” as part of a religious practice. The girls’ parents would then bury the membrane in the ground in accordance with their religious custom, Smith said, according to the Free Press account.” 

‘Removing membrane’ – if this is an accurate description of the practice – is maybe hard to classify as fgm/c?

For an article on the approach toward fgm/c in the Netherlands, see Renée Kool ‘The Dutch approach to female genital mutilation in view of the ECHR’ in the Utrecht Law Review, 2010.

Vooroordelen en AI

14 April 2017 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Ik wist al van de Microsoft chatbot die al lerend het vuilbekken op Twitter had overgenomen. Maar dat was een ‘foutje’ in het systeem. In de Volkskrant van vandaag, 14 april, wordt verwezen naar een wetenschappelijke publicatie die veel interessantere conclusies toelaat.

Uit de studie blijkt dat AI systemen de vooroordelen overnemen die uit de menselijke taal te destilleren zijn. AI is op die manier te zien als een spiegel van de sociale moraal van onze samenlevingen. Dat is best een knauw voor ons zelfbeeld.

Invitation to law and society

9 April 2017 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

In december I bought the book ‘Invitation to law and society’ by Kitty Calavita. The second edition of the book was just published. My colleague Barbara Oomen advised me to take a look at it; she was enthusiastic about it and she used it in her course ‘Law, Society, and Justice’. I soon discovered I was not so enthusiastic. First, I do not think it fits as a course book: there is a nice division of chapters, but there is hardly any focus in the chapters – many topic return in each chapter. Second, I do not like the overall picturing of the law as negative: law is subverted, is just an ideal without reality, is misused by the powerful, cannot bring about real social change etcetera. I agree, most of this is true. But there is not only a neo-Marxist and critical, but also a functionalist, consensus perspective to tell. Law is also always the expression of a certain sense of solidarity. Also gives people a certain idea of identity. Somehow law also tells the (yes: ideological, but no less true) story of who we think we are, or at least should be.

This is not to say I dislike the book. To the contrary, it is a good and interesting read. But if it is not for beginning students, who is it for? Not for colleagues in law and society, because they are already convinced of its relevance. Then, maybe for legal scholars, and for colleagues in the social sciences, who need this ‘invitation’?

Interesting quote, p 193: IMG_0184

I agree with Calavita. Therefore it is a pity that one truth is dominant in the book, that law mostly perpetuates inequality.

My two weeks at the ULB, Maison de Sciences Humaines

8 April 2017 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Ik mocht de laatste twee weken van maart 2017 als ‘professeur invité’ fed13640-0ba5-418a-bd20-2f50f5d9b8a8-original werken op het Maison des Sciences Humaines van de Université Libre de Bruxelles. Zie hun website Het is een fantastische vrijplaats voor heel verschillende onderzoekers naar urbanisatie, East Asia, de Arabische wereld, en gender en seksualiteit.17388790_1121173508029346_5492226494380438154_o Ik vond naast het gewone werk, de seminars, een gastcollege en het Belgische bier ook tijd voor reflectie: welke onderzoeksprojecten waar de rechtspraak (ook) iets aan heeft, zijn interessant voor de komende jaren? Vast ook iets met culturele diversiteit … 🙂

You would probably never guess, but behind these doors0a94ca13-b623-4ea4-9c85-4c4300f3ba23-original is one of the most exciting institutions of the ULB, namely the Centre d’histoire du droit et d’anthropologie juridique (CHDAJ,! On 22 March 2017 we had a wonderful and interesting research seminar on « SELECTIVE MOBILISATION OF ‘CULTURE’ IN JUDICIAL SETTINGS ». Seminar_22march_Program&Venue-1[1] The seminar addressed the question of the mobilisation (or non-mobilisation) of the notions ‘culture’ and ‘cultural diversity’ by the different actors of the judicial system, specifically in family and youth justice. We had presentations by Caroline Simon (ULB), Olga Petintseva (UGhent), Anne Wyvekens (CNRS/ISP), Fabienne Brion (UCLouvain), and Livia Holden (Univ di Padua). We discussed institutional discourse, cultural expertise, routine practices of legal professionals, legal consciousness, interpretive spaces, legal cultural differences between the Netherlands, Flanders and Wallonia, and much more. We’ll try and have publications out in the near future, together with Barbara Truffin.

The Law faculty, and btw the whole of the ULB, has very diverse architecture. Here’s two photos to show that:
17636954_1128692497277447_8409080236508160963_o 17635349_1128692800610750_4016901464985044248_o

Another Dutch court on dissolution of Islamic marriage

4 September 2016 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

The Dutch civil court in the city of Eindhoven, formally the ‘Rechtbank Oost-Brabant’, ruled on 3 August 2016 that a shiite man should cooperate in the dissolution of his Islamic marriage. The court ruled that the man infringes the freedom of his wife to enter into a new relationship (his wife issued a tort action). The man initially refused the dissolution because he first wanted the mahr back. The court balanced his interest against the freedom of his wife, and ruled in her favour.

The case can be found (in Dutch) on

Dutch court on Muslim divorce

19 February 2016 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

On 6 January 2016 the court of Rotterdam ruled it could not force a Muslim husband to cooperate with an Islamic divorce. The court argues that it is up to the woman to freely abide by Islamic rules, and that the issue in question does not relate to the Dutch legal order. The request of the woman (to order the man to perform a talaq or to cooperate with khula) is turned down.

See decision in Dutch: Sharia huwelijk – rb over weigering van de man om mee te werken aan ontbinding van het huwelijk

Of course the decision reached the media. Machteld Zee comments on the case (her recent PhD is shown), but also ‘Femmes for Freedom’ and lawyer Channa Samkalden who argues that ‘non-compliance with religious norms may have civil consequences for women’. The Clara Wichmann Institute will start a legal procedure (a so called ‘proefproces’) to secure that an Islamic divorce in the future can be secured. See, in Dutch:

Indigenous Australians may soon lose ancestral land

1 October 2015 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Every year in my Antrhopology of Law course at Erasmus Law School, a large part of my teaching is devoted to Australian Aboriginals and their concept of law. 

This post, on Al Jazeera, shows again how the Australian government is blind to alternatives to their types of interventions, and crushes indigenous communities. The idea of ‘one law for all’ leads to devastating consequences for some.

Part of the article:

“Since its closure, most of the children who lived there have not returned to school, and youth suicides – cited by the government as a reason to close the town – have increased.

A 2011 Amnesty report found that the mortality rate for Aboriginal people living in urban areas was far higher than those living on ancestral lands. Some of Oombulgurri’s former residents are now homeless.

While the future of Western Australia’s indigenous communities remains uncertain, Aboriginal community organisers say the closure of these communities will bring social chaos and looking back on past policies, this plan could augur yet another lost generation of indigenous Australians.”

For the whole article:

Foucault on refugee crisis

1 October 2015 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Interesting forecast of Michel Foucault in 1979 about refugees:

“Q. The refugee issue has come up many times in the past, but if there is a new historical aspect in the case of Vietnam, what might that be?  

A. In the twentieth century, genocides and ethnic persecutions happened frequently. I think that in the near future, these phenomena will happen again in new forms. First, because over the past few years, the number of dictatorial states has increased rather than diminished. Since political expression is impossible in their country and because they do not have the force necessary to resist, people repressed by dictatorship will chose to escape from their hell.

Second, in former colonies, states were created retained colonial borders as they were, so that ethnicities, languages and religions were mixed. This phenomenon creates serious tensions. In those countries, antagonisms within the population are likely to explode and bring about massive displacement and the collapse of state apparatuses.

Third, developed economic powers that needed labour from the Third World and developing countries have imported migrants from Portugal, Algeria or Africa. But, now, countries which no longer need this workforce because of technological evolution are attempting to send those migrants back. All these problems lead to that of population migration, involving hundreds of thousands and millions of people. And population migrations necessarily become painful and tragic and are inevitably accompanied by deaths and murders. I am afraid that what is happening in Vietnam is not only an after-effect of the past, but also a foreshadowing of the future.”

See for the citation:

Interesting research experiment: “I don’t see color; I love diversity”: College students’ conflicting race frames

25 August 2015 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

The idea of ‘frames’ and ‘framing’ is that a loose set of general, mostly subconscious preconceptions about what the world looks like and ‘how people are’, together form a rather strong set or framework on how people conceive socio-legal issues. In the US one of those frames is called ‘race’, while in the Netherlands this would probably be called ‘culture’. On this website you will find a short report of a research done in the US. It starts like this:

“Despite popular notions that the U.S. is now “post-racial,” numerous recent events (such as the Rachel Dolezal kerfuffle and the Emmanuel AME Church shooting) have clearly showcased how race and racism continue to play a central role in the functioning of contemporary American society. But why is it that public rhetoric is at such odds with social reality?

A qualitative study by sociologists Natasha Warikoo and Janine de Novais provides insights. By conducting interviews with 47 white students at two elite universities, they explore the “lenses through which individuals understand the role of race in society.” Described as race frames, Warikoo and de Novais articulate two ways in which their respondents rely on particular cultural frames in making sense of race and race relations.” Read further.

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