The idea that civil law should to a greater degree, accommodate cultural and religious difference in family matters is equally vulnerable to challenge. Such accommodation is problematic because in many instances it would necessarily involve shoring up patriarchal and caste power, resulting in the violation of fundamental human rights, especially the right of choice and autonomy for women and girls in particular.
It is true, as Ayesha Khan pointed out earlier this week in the Guardian, that most minority (not just Muslim) women, harbour a strong instinct to fight for their rights. This is precisely why any move to limit their rights by institutionalising discriminatory value systems within the wider legal system will be dangerous. Those who need our help the most are those who are the most powerless to determine their choices.
The mark of civilization is pushing the envelope on individual rights and equality before law, not accommodating obscurantist beliefs and discriminatory values in the name of religious freedom and multiculturalism.