This project provides accessible and culturally significant material for a gender sensitization training of judicial officers in Pakistan and Indonesia. Through two independent actions this project fosters in-depth knowledge of the jurisprudence that abides by international human rights and takes into account context significant cultural expertise in Pakistan and Indonesia.

The objectives of this project are:

1) Fostering awareness on the relationship between cultural principles and gender justice at Islamic courts;

2) Enhanced engagement by Islamic courts’ judges in promoting gender justice at a local level and in accordance of both international human rights and cultural principles;

The outputs of this project are:

1) a multimedia digital platofrom with bilingual case law (Urdu-English) for Open Access (OA) judicial training.

3) a compendium of best decisions by Islamic courts’ judges that apply cultural principles in conformity with international women's rights.

Press release on Krjoja the 11th May 2019 (English Translation here) and on Republika the 4th July 2019



  • Livia Holden and Azam Chaudhary , 'Daughters' Inheritance, Legal Pluralism, and Governance in Pakistan' in Livia Holden (ed), Legal Pluralism and Governance in South Asia and in the Diasporas (Taylor & Francis 2013)
    This paper explores social actors’ arguments regarding daughters’ inheritance, their use in court, and the implications of legal pluralism on governance in Pakistan. It scrutinizes the notion of custom, non-state law, and positive law as crucial dynamics that shed light on the ways social actors make sense of power and governance. In Foucauldian terms, this paper deals with the formation of statements – their temporalization and their becoming but in particular sheds light on the potential logics of the perpetuation of gender discrimination in inheritance laws. This paper suggests that the everyday arguments that play a role in the elaboration of the story told to the courts and received by the judge have the role of actants. Within the framework of proceedings it is possible to isolate the micro-units on which the legal discourse is elaborated either for state- or non-state jurisdiction, or for both of them, not necessarily seen as antagonistic places, and not necessarily seen within a framework of justice and injustice. This paper concludes that notwithstanding polarized discourses on centralized and decentralized governance, everyday practices of law in Pakistan tend rather to perpetuate non-state law together with positive law as continuous and concomitant interlegalities in and beyond the state instead of exclusive and conflicting sources of legitimacy.
  • Livia Holden, Legal Pluralism and Governance in South Asia and Diasporas (Taylor & Francis 2015)
    Legal Pluralism and Governance in South Asia and the Diasporas contributes to the already heated debate about legal pluralism and the ontology of law by shifting the attention toward the relationship between what is treated as law and its impact on governance at the fora of dispute resolution. This book addresses sensitive issues such as gender rights and alternative dispute resolution in India, Hindu and Muslim personal laws in South Asia and in Europe, cross-border white violence, the change to Islamic legal traditions under Western domination, women’s inheritance in Pakistan and in the disputed territory of Gilgit Baltistan, indigenous rights and resistance at the India-Bangladesh border, and customary laws of nomadic groups in India. The authors deploy a variety of views that point at the pros and cons of legal pluralism and also integrates its opponents. They show how constructions of identity, religion, and power have historically informed the conceptualisation of secularism which may be an ideal, sometimes able to provide for perceptions of accountable governance, but also generating dividing worldviews. This book was published as a special issue of the Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law.
  • Livia Holden (ed), Cultural Expertise and Litigation: Patterns, Conflicts, Narratives (Routledge 2011)
    Cultural Expertise and Litigation addresses the role of social scientists as a source of expert evidence, and is a product of their experiences and observations of cases involving litigants of South Asian origin. What is meant in court by "culture," "custom" and "law"? How are these concepts understood by witnesses, advocates, judges and litigants? How far are cross-cultural understandings facilitated - or obscured - in the process? What strategies are adopted? And which ones turn out to be successful in court? How is cultural understanding – and misunderstanding – produced in these circumstances? And how, moreover, do the decisions in these cases not only reflect, but impact, upon the law and the legal procedure? Cultural Expertise and Litigation addresses these questions, as it elicits the patterns, conflicts and narratives that characterize the legal role of social scientists in a variety of de facto plural settings – including immigration and asylum law, family law, citizenship law and criminal law.
  • Livia Holden, 'Women Judges in Pakistan' (2018) International Journal of the Legal Profession
    Although the first appointment of women judges in Pakistan dates back to 1974, a significant appointment of female judges from 2009 onward has caused a jump in female representation to more than one third in family courts: a quiet move during the tumultuous years of the so-called Chaudhry Court. The challenge in this scenario was whether this change would only be temporary or whether it would also lead to substantial and accountable inclusion. This paper adopts mixed methods to scrutinize the extent of the adherence to the principle of gender equality in the judiciary as per international treaties to which Pakistan is signatory. It starts by retracing the historical steps of the appointment of female judges in Pakistan and then investigates the everyday interactions and preoccupations of women judges in their daily management of justice. The findings elucidate how the global agenda impacts local expectations and conceptualizations of gender representation within and beyond the state.
  • Livia Holden, Cultural Expertise and Socio-Legal Studies (Emerald, Austin Sarat Series 2019)
    This special issue of Studies in Law, Politics, and Society aims to foster a dialogue that is inclusive, constructive, and innovative in order to lay the basis for evaluating the usefulness and impact of cultural expertise in modern litigation. It investigates the scope of cultural expertise as a new socio-legal concept that broadly concerns the use of social sciences in connection with rights and the solution of conflicts. While the definition of cultural expertise is new, the conflicts it applies to are not, and these range from criminal law to civil law, including international human rights. In this special issue, socio-legal scientists with interdisciplinary backgrounds scrutinize the applicability of the notion of cultural expertise in Europe and the rest of the World. Cases include murder, female genital mutilation, earthquake claims, Islamic law, underage marriages, child custody, adoption, land rights, and asylum. The authors debate on a variety of themes, such as legal pluralism, ethnicity, causal determinism, reification of culture, and the “culturalization” of defendants. The volume concludes with an overview of the ethical implications of the definition of cultural expertise and suggestions for a way forward.
  • Livia Holden and Euis Nurlaelawati, Nilai-Nilai Budaya dan Keadilan bagi Perempuan di Pengadilan Agama Indonesia: Praktik Terbaik (UIN Sunan Kalijaga Press 2019)
    This collection of essays published shows that at the Islamic courts in Indonesia certain judges skilfully use their cultural expertise in order to reformulate cultural principles within the global framework of international women’s rights. All the cases of this compendium pertain to family law but display a great variety of competencies ranging from cultural principles to international women’s rights and including a remarkable flexibility of interpretation of Islamic law in matters of Javanese joint property, Minangkabau matrilinear kinship, underage marriages, marriage by abduction, divorce and revocation of divorce, poligamy, mediation, customary dower and mahr.
    ISBN: 978-602-1326-92-3