Shalish (Mediation) for Rural Bangladesh


Contact Information
World Mediation Organization - Daniel Erdmann
Hohenzollerndamm 182
Berlin - 10713
0049 30 982 986 49
The concept of legal pluralism refers to a situation of coexistence of several legal systems. It means the simultaneous existence of a formal legal system of statutory laws with customary principles or informal rules.

Different laws deal with different matters, for example, formal laws are meant to regulate commercial, criminal or constitutional aspects of human life, while civil and personal matters are governed by the local customary laws or religious laws. The religious personal laws of Bangladeshâ's various religious communities govern matters within the private sphere, including marriage, divorce, custody, inheritance and so on.

Muslim marriage and sharing of paternal properties are governed by the Islamic law but the Marriage Registration act 1961 imposes some optional conditions. There was no law on marriage of Hindu community until 2012.

Bangladesh Constitution declares equal rights for men and women in all spheres of public life. For centuries, women have been in total subjugation in male-dominated patriarchal societies. It has been a "natural law" to regard women as the inferior sex and for them to submit to male authority for the "smooth functioning" of society in its day to day progress. Many men do not agree with women acquiring equal rights as men because of religious reasons.

Salish (village mediation and arbitration) and fatwa (religious edict) are but common features in rural Bangladesh. These have assumed the status, albeit unofficially, of parallel courts in dealing with marriage, properties and small offences.  The social system is still under the control of local elites and religious leaders who prefer Sharia Committees, or Islamic Societies with the objective of establishing their unquestioned dominance. Awarding brutal punishment, including caning, whipping and beating, in local Salish by persons devoid of judicial authority constitutes violation of the constitutional rights.

A "fatwa" is an opinion, more particularly a legal opinion. Fatwas can include the decision as to when a holiday is to begin based upon the sighting of the moon, or an opinion on a religious issue. Being one's opinion, a fatwa in Islamic jurisprudence is fundamentally non-binding. According to fatwa, when a Muslim man divorces his wife by uttering the Arabic word "Talaq" three times, his wife must be married to another person, even if he later decides to withdraw that pronouncement and it is irrevocable and no opportunity of reconciliation ...
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Shalish, Mediation, Conflict Resolution, Bangladesh, Asia


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