Suffering for Her Faith: The Importance of an Intersectional Perspective on Gendered Religious Persecution in International Law

By Mr. Isaac Sommers '21, 2020-21 Program Fellow

Women around the world suffer from discriminatory treatment ranging from violent persecution to social differentiation. Likewise, religious people are routinely targeted because of their faith. Moreover, many women of faith have historically been and are still today subject to increased risk of harm or actually experience a greater level of targeted harm (as compared to non-religious women or religious men) because of the interplay between their religious and gender identities. Despite this, a number of the most prominent international legal institutions that deal directly with discrimination against women inadequately use intersectional language to refer to religious women. In fact, there is a notable gap in scholarship and legal documents specifically addressing the disparate impact of discrimination toward religious women and a tendency to treat religion more as a source of oppression than as a distinct identity. Although many international organizations and agreements address issues of gender and religious discrimination separately, human rights bodies need to do more to address the intersection of gendered religious discrimination. (Published in the Harvard International Law Journal, Volume 61, Issue 2)

Originally Published in Harvard International Law Journal

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