There is currently no consistent position taken in relation to the recognition of ‘other’ law in the UK. Over the last twenty years in the UK there have been calls for even the existing recognitions to be relinquished. Arguments for this position have instrumentalized a rhetoric on women’s rights and equality to justify those claims. This paper first argues that recognition in the UK is inconsistent and that current arrangements for recognizing ‘other’ law are more reflective of former colonial positions in relation to non-state than a 21st century legal system in a diverse society. Second, it is argued that this itself poses a problem for women’s rights: flawed presumptions in this popular debate have both instrumentalized women’s rights yet failed to address the real issues for equality and human rights as applied to women’s lived experience. Finally, the paper advocates James Tully’s ‘convention of mutual recognition’ as the basis for developing a set of principles that can be consistently applied when both making new law and exercising judicial discretion. This paper therefore makes an original contribution by analyzing the current parameters of the debate through feminist critiques of law and by arguing for the concept of ‘mutual recognition’ to present a rights-based way forward.
REPRESENTATION, HUMAN RIGHTS, SOCIAL CITIZENSHIP, SOCIAL COHESION