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What is R@H

The ISIM commenced the project 'Rights at Home: An Approach to the Internalization of Human Rights in Family Relations in Islamic Communities' on 1 October 2001. Focusing on selected communities within the Islamic world, 'Rights at Home' intended to supplement current legalistic approaches to human rights with a broader analysis and action at the societal level in order to mediate the dichotomy between the public and private spheres, and between modernized and traditional segments of society, in favour of greater respect of human rights within an Islamic framework, particularly with respect to the rights of women and children.

This project proposes to supplement not replace the 'state-centric approach' towards human rights by informing and supporting internal, community-level initiatives for social change through local actors who combine a commitment to human rights with the ability to effectively advocate the underlying values of these rights within their own communities. These actors, referred to as 'advocates of social change', are the primary target group of the project.

The ultimate beneficiaries of Rights at Home are women and children in Islamic societies, whose rights will be addressed under two main themes: the socialization of children and the personal autonomy of women. More concretely, the project aims at building capacity for women to demand their rights, especially in the fields of economic, social, and cultural rights, and at socializing boys and girls into equal and fair gender relations. This requires critically addressing questions of Islamic family law, which continues to be applied by Islamic communities throughout the world even where it is not formally enforced by the state, as well as customary practices, domestic power relations, and so on, as the necessary basis to deal with actual human rights issues such as gender equality, domestic violence, restriction of mobility, denial of access to work, and political participation.

As it is clear that this approach had to overcome some serious theoretical and practical difficulties, this project devoted an initial period to identifying significant advocates of social change in selected communities, and to find out about their communal power bases and networks in order to fully appreciate their contextual circumstances. To this purpose, the project planned three Sounding Board Meetings in selected regions - Islamic Africa, the Arab world, and Southeast Asia in order to conduct local field research, in addition to developing relevant networks of scholars, research institutes, NGOs, human rights activists, resource persons and others. Sounding Board meetings took place in Yemen in May 2002, in Tanzania in June 2002, and in Malaysia in January 2003. The third Sounding Board Meeting brought together participants from Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore.

Subsequently the project conducted interactive workshops to provide the identified actors with theological, jurisprudential, and other social science resources for developing their own capacity to raise issues important for their respective communities on the basis of the insights gained. These sessions offered a platform for a combined intellectual-pragmatic dialogue related to the project's themes and approach in which the candidates had the opportunity to learn from each other's experiences and specific local constraints or commonalities.

The project further provided continued support for these human rights advocates in implementing their own plans for cultural transformation. In addition, workable models have been developed for usage in wider settings, such as the Advance Training Manual, and other materials contained in this Website itself. In this way, the need to limit initial implementation of the project's methodology to certain local communities is partly compensated for by the accessibility of materials and skills .

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Their views do not necessarily reflect those of the Rights at Home project/ISIM