The battle over the personal status law of 1959
in Burning the veil

While some attempts to transform the position of women involved long-term change, most notably access to education and the personal status law, leant themselves to interventionism and attempts to impose radical transformation from 'above'. This chapter looks at the issue of women's franchise and examines the marriage code. The key features of Algerian marriage law and custom on the eve of the 1959 French reform meant that young single women would have a marriage arranged for them by the father or legal guardian. After the success of the women's vote in the referendum of 28 September General Salan sent a telegram to General de Gaulle noting that the 'massive participation of Muslim women' had given a green light to the next stage of emancipation. Crucial to Algerian reactions to legal reform was the fact that through many centuries Islam had adapted to the 'ground rules' that regulated marriage strategies.

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Burning the veil

The Algerian war and the ‘emancipation’ of Muslim women, 1954–62

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