Caught Between Family Laws

Gender, Law and Religion - Experiences from Denmark and Morocco

You are invited to join a two-day public conference in light of the 10 years anniversary of the reformed Moroccan Family Law.

Time and location

Thursday the 4th and Friday the 5th of December 2014

The National Museum of Denmark

Prinsens Palæ
Ny Vestergade 10
1471 Copenhagen

The conference is public and free of charge but registration is necessary.

The conference will be conducted in English and Arabic.


Please confirm your participation by filling our registration form here

Read more

The conference is a follow up on a two-day conference held by KVINFO in Morocco in November 2013 which was evaluated in an analytical report

Read more about the implementation of the reformed Moroccan Family Law in KVINFO's study report

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About the conference

The conference takes its point of departure in KVINFO’s extensive experiences in Morocco with projects addressing women’s access to justice since 2006. The two-day conference will disseminate experiences from KVINFO’s Danish-Moroccan cooperation and relate them to current issues in Denmark and Morocco regarding gender, family laws and religion.

The focus will be on minority groups who are "caught" between traditional, national and transnational laws and practices, and how Denmark and other European countries are handling this issue.

The conference is organized by KVINFO, the Danish Center for Information on Gender, Equality and persity, in cooperation with ARPA and the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at Copenhagen University.


Thursday the 4th of December

DAY 1:
“Navigating between family laws across borders”
Moderator: Leila Hanafi, ARPA

09.00-09.20 Welcome
Nina Groes, Director, KVINFO

09.20-09.40 Introduction to the Moroccan family law 10 years after the reform
Leila Hanafi, International law expert, ARPA
Leila Hanafi will introduce the reform of the Moroccan family law in 2004 and outline the current heated discourse regarding the legal rights of Moroccan women residing abroad. She will discuss whether some women experience access to justice differently than others because of how the laws (family law-related issues) are written and/or executed in practice, with a main objective focusing on discrepancies of women’s access to justice between Moroccan women in Morocco and those residing abroad.

09.40-10.00 Keynote: Changing legal cultures – the interplay of legislation, culture and tradition
Hanne Petersen, dr.jur., Professor of Legal Cultures, Copenhagen University

10.00-10.30 Q&A

10.30-10.45 Coffee break

10.45-12.30 Panel debate: Moroccan diaspora and family laws – experiences from Spain, France and Denmark
• Houda Zekri, PhD researcher, Faculty of Law, University of Granada
• Naima Korchi, international lawyer & founder of Africa Women’s Forum
• Amina M’Harrech, lawyer, family courts in Southern Morocco
• Hakima Lakhrissi, Head of Copenhagen West Immigrant Women’s Centre
The panel will address  the expansion of the Moroccan family law's legal protection to Moroccan women residing abroad with a special focus on marriage and porce. Discussants will share European country case studies on the interplay between  the provisions of the Moroccan Family Law with the demands made by the norms and methods of private international law, Moroccan national legal system (esp. the Constitutional provisions on rights of Moroccans living abroad) and the laws of the country of residence of these women.

12.30-13.30 Lunch

13.30-14.00 Entertainment: “Det Slører Stadig”

14.00-15.30 Panel debate: Panel debate: Reconciliation and Mediation: a comparative approach - experiences from Morocco and Denmark
• Hamid Fadli, President of the Family Court in Chefchaouen, Morocco
• Nadia Mzaouir, Judge at the Social Court in Casablanca, Morocco
• Leise Døllner, Development Consultant, The Danish State Administration

15.30-16.00 Wrap up of day 1

Friday the 5th of December

DAY 2:
“Balancing between family laws and religious practices”
Moderator: Muayyad Mehyar, Danish Institute for Human Rights

09.00-09.20 Welcome and sum-up of day 1
Katarina Blomqvist, Head of KVINFO’s International Programmes

09.20-09.50 Keynote: Moroccan Family Law: Tradition, Modernity and Hybridity
Joshua A. Sabih, dr.theol, Copenhagen University

09.50-10.20 Keynote: Between Jewish and Islamic Law: Inter-religious Relations, Family Law, and Gender in the Moroccan Legal System
Jessica Maya Marglin, Professor & PhD, University of Southern California
Jews have lived in Morocco nearly two thousand years.  Under Islamic rule, they were considered dhimmis, non-Muslim monotheists who accepted a second-class status and recognized the superiority of Islam.  In exchange, Jews were granted a significant degree of autonomy - including the right to administer their own legal system.  Jewish courts in Morocco - and indeed across the Islamic world - were vibrant institutions that handled the majority of intra-Jewish legal affairs.  Jewish courts were especially important for matters of family law, especially porce, marriage, and inheritance.  Morocco’s legal system was highly pluralistic, accommodating the co-existence of Jewish and Islamic judicial institutions.

10.20-11.00 Q&A

11.00-11.15 Coffee break

11.15-11.45 Keynote: A sociological perspective on the Moroccan Family Laws' impact on women with regard to marriage and porce
Souad Slaoui, Professor & PhD, Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah University in Fez, Morocco

11.45-12.15 Keynote: Marriages and porces in ethnic minority families
Anika Liversage, Senior Researcher, The Danish National Centre for Social Research (SFI)
In what ways are the marriages and porces in ethnic minority families affected by both social and legal practices from their countries of origin? That is the issue of this presentation which draws upon a country-wide interview study with ethnic minority men and women, carried out in 2011 for the Danish Ministry of Integration. Here, especially the issue of dissolving a “nikah” – i.e. a “Muslim marriage” – turns out to be problematic for some ethic minority women but also some men encounter challenges here. Furthermore, great variations exist, tied to factors such as educational levels and levels of family support.

12.15-12.45 Q&A

12.45-13.45 Lunch

13.45-15.00 Round table discussion: Balancing family laws and religious practices - experiences from Denmark
• Bent Lexner, former Chief Rabbi, The Synagogue in Copenhagen
Naveed Baig, Imam, Danish-Islamic Centre
Farwha Nielsen, Executive Manager, The Family House & Ethnic Womens' Consult
In the last two decades, religious sacred laws and practices in Western countries have increasingly drawn the attention of both scholars and the public at large. This round table has invited practitioners of Islamic and Jewish laws as well as a practitioner working with migrant women in Denmark in order to elucidate a number of pertinent issues such as how religious communities navigate through a various sets of laws and practices in Denmark.

15.00-15.30: Wrap up and Thank you for coming