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.

Racism in the Netherlands – debate

19 August 2015 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

It is almost like the Dutch government these days (18 & 19 August) is sitting ‘in the dock’ in court, as one newspaper put it (NRC). The Dutch section of the International Commission of Jurists with many other NGO’s and the UN Commission for human rights/Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination concluded that the Netherlands does not do enough to combat racism. The government apparently is of the opinion that it does enough. ‘Discrimination namely is illegal. The law says so. There is no political party with a racist programme. And no politician was ever criminally convicted for racism.’ Some say the discussion ‘will only feed the anti-racism activists and the ‘asylum-industry’ with new arguments’. Others are of the opinion that ethnic profiling by the police, the high levels of unemployment among ethnic minorities, and the negative atmosphere surrounding the discussion on Black Pete, are real problems that should be tackled.

I think it is always interesting how the law can be used to ward of accusations. ‘According to the law it is illegal, so what are you talking about?’ Everybody knows however that daily routine and practice is not a mirror of the law: in actual practice people do have stereotypes, do prefer to hire employees from one group over the other, do discriminate. If the law apparently is not able to combat that, the question is if the government is doing enough by just referring to the law.

Kijken in de ziel van rechters: over de interpretatie van het gedrag van de verdachte

12 August 2015 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Interessant om een uitzending te zien waarin Coen Verbraak aan rechters uitspraken weet te ontlokken die alle vermoedens bevestigen die ik in 1998 al in mijn proefschrift verwoordde: onbevooroordeeld de rechtszaal ingaan is een fictie en stereotypen doen ertoe. Zie de uitzending Kijken in de ziel van 27 juli 2015.

The Ferguson Cop

11 August 2015 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Interesting and very good ‘background story’ of the cop Wilson who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014.

See the New Yorker.

Revealing quote: “McCarthy wasn’t surprised that Wilson had difficulty interacting with residents. Police officers are rigorously trained in firing weapons and apprehending suspects but not in establishing common ground with people who have had different experiences. “If you go to an academy, how much is on that?” he asked me. “Basically, nothing.” A recent survey by the Police Executive Research Forum revealed that cadets usually receive fifty-eight hours of training in firearms, forty-nine in defensive tactics, ten in communication skills, and eight in de-escalation tactics.”

Powerful people in the Netherlands

11 January 2014 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Every year De Volkskrant has a network analysis to find out who the people are with the most power in the Netherlands. Democratically chosen people are excluded. They make a Top 200. One thing is clear: the Netherlands is Paradise for employers. No 1 on the list for several years is Bernard Wientjes, head of the VNO-NCW lobby of employers organisations.

Some interesting facts:

– 25% is women (last year 20%); the first woman is on nr 10

– 5 have an ethnic minority background (last year only 1)

– average age is 58 (stable)

Such a top is always interesting, but the interpretations even more. What does it mean …?

Here is my blogpost from November 2011 on the same list.

Polemics and academics on human rights

15 December 2013 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

The political and media debate on human rights and the interference of ‘Strasbourg’ (the European Court of Human Rights) with national politics and law, that raged two years ago and that died down somewhat, has returned to the Netherlands these days. Probably because of the 65 year anniversary of the UDHR of the UN. Anyway, the University of Leiden Law School in the name of Bastiaan Rijpkema more or less repeated its ‘anti’ sentiment by stating in a newspaper article ‘Please, not even more human rights’. Rijpkema argues that the human rights movement shows disdain for democracy. ‘The right answer to political questions in contemporary society should be found in the human rights documents’, he reconstructs their way of reasoning. In stead human rights should focus on its core business, not on whether people should be allowed to have a satellite antenna on their rented house, or whether people living in the Heathrow area have a fundamental right not to be disturbed by airplane noise at night.

Max Pam argues polemically that human rights have proliferated enormously, and that they have become a bunch of contradictory ideals and recommendations with which all states – be they Saudi Arabia or the UK – can do what they like. They give no guidance anymore.

On the other hand there is people like Marie-Benedicte Dembour who argues that human rights are obsolete – not to argue that they should be abolished, but that they should be even more extended to make a defence of the welfare state possible. Law=politics, and judges should be activists. ‘More Strasbourg!’ because ‘politics are highjacked by capitalism and the large media concerns’.

Latest contribution is by political commentator Martin Sommer on the ‘National Plan of Action Human Rights’ that was presented by Amnesty International last Tuesday. He observes a kongsi of human rights activists that ‘cite each other in order to conclude that the Netherlands does not live up to human rights standards’. He cites the debate on the subsiding of houses in the province of Groningen due to gas winning. ‘Should people really need to argue in terms of the right not to live in fear when a case can be filed under tort??!’ His real addition to the debate however lies elsewhere: the human rights activists and believers never talk about solving contradictory rights, and never talk about who will pay for all this. In politics you not only have to deal with contradictory rights and how to balance them, but the balance also includes a budget.

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