Domestic violence in Lebanon

Hi Social Theory students and LLM students

Today I read an interesting article about the law, women and domestic violence in Lebanon. It applies to both the Social Theory classes and the LLM class.

Here’s the link to the article I read about domestic violence laws in Lebanon. I think it contains some interesting facts and issues regarding how the law can protect women, but also how some groups in society can work to ensure that the law protects their interests, more than women’s interests. There’s an interesting account of a woman allegedly killed by her husband: he was acquitted (found not guilty) and the court found she died of natural causes, even though it also found that she was beaten by her husband several times in the days before she died. Her name was Roula Yaccoub. Her death provoked  a lot of protests and awareness of the wider problem.

Domestic violence is an issue that affects every society, not just Lebanon of course. And it is not just a women’s issue: it is a children’s issue too, since children are often badly affected by it and often the target of it too, and let’s not forget the fact that it is a man’s issue when men are the ones carrying out the acts of violence against their family members.

Read the article on Al Jazeera and feel free to leave a comment.

Here’s a question for you: Is domestic violence adequately addressed by the law in Kuwait?





Using the law to benefit those in power: CLS

Hi Social Theory students

Here is an article about the way the ousted Ben Ali regime in Tunisia used laws and regulations to line their pockets, and the pockets of their family members. This is exactly the type of thing that CLS points out: law is a tool used by the wealthy and the powerful to oppress others.

Read the article, sourcing a report from the World Bank, and leave a reply with your comments.

This is a great example of CLS in practice. See if you can find others.

Sharia as a source of law

Hi LLM students

Last Wednesday we examined an issue in comparative constitutional law: sharia as a source of law (SSL) clauses in Arab countries’ constitutions. I wrote a Powerpoint on this topic and I asked you to read Clark Lombardi’s article which is the course materials. I also suggested some further reading about this topic.  If you read it, please leave a reply.

Today I read something interesting related to this topic: Tunisia has adopted a new constitution. Here is a link about this topic that appeared on AlJazeera English in January 2014.

Here is a link to the Arabic constitution which I think is the one that was adopted. Its interesting to compare it to the Arab constitutions that we looked at in class this week. The new Tunisian constitution says that Islam is the state religion but it does not state that Islam or Sharia is a source of law. Many foreign leaders hailed this new constitution as a great achievement. Read the document and form your own views.

The US and the UK letters to the Security Council on 7 October 2001

Hi Current Legal Issues students,

This week we are looking at the use of force by the US and the UK against Afghanistan in 2001.

We are going to look at how the US and the UK justified their decisions to use force. A good place to look for evidence about this is the letter that each state wrote to the President of the Security Council.

Here is a link to the United States’ letter to the Security Council – its notification under Article 51 – explaining why it was using force in self-defense against Afghanistan on 7 October 2001.

And here is a link to the United Kingdom’s letter to the Security Council about the same matter

Please read both of these documents. Can you spot the differences?

Leave a reply if you wish. We will discuss them in class, too.

Why there aren’t more women at the top

Hi everyone,

Here’s an interesting article that appeared in the ‘Kuwait Times’ newspaper on 6 April 2014 about women working as public prosecutors and judges:

Women in Kuwait fight to become public prosecutors

Here are some great links with thought-provoking ideas. Read/watch some and post a reply.

1. Sheryl Sandberg on   – why there aren’t more women at the top (14.54)

2. The ‘Heidi versus Howard’ perception barrier – Columbia University study (mentioned in Sheryl Sandberg’s speech above) and “Are Successful Women Really Less Likeable” in The Atlantic.

3. Google gets serious about gender equality

4. Global Gender Gap Report 2013 (available from that site in English or Arabic)

“The index continues to track the strong correlation between a country’s gender gap and its national competitiveness. Because women account for one-half of a country’s potential talent base, a nation’s competitiveness in the long term depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilizes its women.”

Here’s the report in English. Country rankings at page 8. See countries by income on page 17.

5. One in three Kuwaiti women is a domestic violence victim

6. Sheryl Sandberg on – so we leaned in, and then what? Women are called ‘bossy’ so when a little girl leads she’s ‘bossy’ but when a little boys leads, he’s called a ‘leader’.

7. Human Rights Watch: World Report 2013 - Kuwait has no laws prohibiting domestic violence, marital rape or sexual harassment.

8.  Kuwait’s report to the UN’s CEDAW committee. A great read.

9. Death in Plain Sight – documentary on Aljazeera. Every day in the US three women are killed by their partners.

10. How we turned the tide on domestic violence - an activist for women with 30 yeats experience, speaking on





Is your country a good place to live?

Hi everyone

A new report was released on 3rd April – it ranks countries according to their social progress. It’s a really interesting read. And guess which country ranks #1?

Its a very important report. It looks at something called “Social progress”. Here’s their definition:

“We define social progress as the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens and communities to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives, and create the conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential.”

So, if you are interested in which countries have the best and worst ‘social progress’ take a look at the 2014 Social Progress Report.

Read it here

I like the way they went about it. The methodology is solid. The academics behind it are impressive.

There’s a ranking of countries at page 26 – grouped into tiers. Go here for a quick reference to see how your country is ranked.

Its got a Table  at page 35 that shows some underperforming and over performing countries (Table 2.2). Some countries have high GDP but they can’t translate that into social progress such as ‘opportunities’ and ‘well being’ (e.g. Kuwait) or they destroy the environment whilst achieving that high GDP. Some countries have lower GDP (e.g., New Zealand’s GDP IS 25th in the world) but they perform well at translating that into gains and a better standard of living for citizens.

In terms of providing ‘Opportunity’ for citizens, the Middle East and North Africa is the worst performing region in the world. Yikes – let’s get out of here!!!

I challenge each of you to read some of the report and post your reply below.

I think its interesting to look at the legal origins of the top-performing countries – what do you see?

Student presentations

Hello Social Theory students

Well, it’s almost that time of the semester when you get to stand up and tell us what you know. It’s your time to shine.

So, to help get us organized for the big event, below is a suggested schedule for the student presentations.  They will begin on Monday 14th April for men but they might have to begin on Wednesday 9th April for women because there are more individuals presenting in that class.

Note: There is a separate schedule for men and for women below.

Please take a look at your schedule. If you have any questions, comments or, of course, complaints…please bring them with you to class tomorrow (Wed 2 April) and we can discuss them. If you are not in the right group or if you have something that conflicts with the time, you need to let me know in class on 2 April so I can make any necessary changes. If you want to swap times with another group, that’s fine too, just let me know in advance so I can make the change.

I have updated both schedules. Please check to make sure everything is fine. I don’t want to make last-minute changes:

Men’s class: Updated MEN’s student presentations schedule

Women’s class Updated WOMEN’s student presentation schedule

Yay! I can’t wait to hear from you all and see what you have been working on.



Current Legal Issues – presentation schedule


Here is a schedule for the student presentations. Please take a look at it. Let me know if you have any comments or questions.


Here is the rubric which I will use to grade the presentations. Please read it before you present. Please make sure that you have done everything necessary to get a full mark.

Rubric for grading presentations

Islamic Feminism: focus questions

Hello Social Theory and LLM students

Questions about Islamic Feminism in Kuwait

Above is a link to a document which has some focus questions about Islamic Feminism in Kuwait and the research carried out in Kuwait by Dr Alessandra Gonzalez. I will print and hand out a copy of this document in class on Wednesday 2 April.

Here is a link which has scanned images of some pages of use: Extracts from Islamic Feminism in Kuwait. Although the scanned pages are not all clear, some of them are good enough to be able to see what the answers are to the questions in the top document.

I also found an interesting report about Kuwait when it reported its progress on implementing women’s rights to the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. This report is from 2011. It’s long but very interesting. Great material for essays. Questions are asked from the UN human rights people and the Kuwaiti delegation explains their position. There are some very interesting exchanges in the report.