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Waheeda Amien


Waheeda Amien is an Associate Professor and Director of Internationalisation and Outreach in the Faculty of Law at UCT.

She holds a BA LLB from the University of Cape Town, LLM from the University of the Western Cape, and Ph.D. in Law from the University of Ghent. Her doctoral thesis involved a comparative study of Muslim Personal Law and Human Rights.

Waheeda teaches in the Departments of Public Law and Private Law (see teaching list below). She is the Programme Convenor for the Human Rights Law Programme in the Department of Public Law. She has also presented guest lectures on Legal Pluralism and Muslim Personal Law and Human Rights at among others, the University of the Western Cape, University of Ghent, University of Lucerne, Queen Mary University of London, University of Antwerpen, Daroel Ilm (Cape Town) and the Religious Studies Department at UCT. In 2013, she was a Visiting Scholar in the Faculty of Law at the Queen Mary University of London and a Visiting Academic in the Faculty of Law at the University of Antwerpen. In 2014, she taught in the Winter School as a Visiting Professor in the School of Law at the University of Maryland.

Her area of specialization includes Legal Pluralism and Human Rights in Personal and Family laws. She has published in these areas and has reviewed articles, books, book chapters, book proposals and grant proposals for the: Malawi Law Journal; Journal for the Study of Religion Review; American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences; International Journal on Law, Family and Policy; Journal of Religion and Human Rights; Journal for Islamic Studies; Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal; Journal for Comparative Law in Africa; Acta Juridica; Ashgate Publishers; Association of Women in Development; and the British Economic and Social Research Council. She is also a member of the editorial board for the Contemporary Studies in Legal and Applied Research (UCT), and was a member of the editorial board for the Handbook on Family Law and Policy (UK: Routledge, 2013) and Mediation, Theory and Practice (UK: Equinox, 2014).

Waheeda has provided expert opinions to among others, the United Nations Expert Group Meeting on The Rights and Securities of Religious Minorities, hosted by the United Nations Independent Expert on Minority Issues, Ms Rita Izsak in Geneva, Switzerland; Webber Wentzel Attorneys (South Africa); Commission on Gender Equality (South Africa); Inayat Solicitors (United Kingdom); and the City of Cape Town.

Waheeda is further an Attorney of the High Court of South Africa and an accredited mediator with the Family Mediator’s Association of the Cape (FAMAC). After completing articles of clerkship at the Legal Aid Board, she worked as a Researcher (and in some instances also Trainer) for a number of institutions including the South African Parliament's then Welfare and Population Development Portfolio Committee; then Law, Race and Gender Research Unit (UCT); and Conflicts in Human Rights Project at the Human Rights Centre (Ghent University). In addition, Waheeda worked as a Law Clinician at the University of the Western Cape's Law Clinic in the capacities of Gender Convenor of the Gender Unit and Assistant Director of the Law Clinic as well as Acting Director of the Human Rights Research and Advocacy Project of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL).

As part of her socially responsive work, Waheeda is involved in numerous non-governmental organizations, including being a member of the Executive Body of the International Commission on Legal Pluralism and general member of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL). She provides pro bono legal services to indigent people in the Southern Suburbs through her involvement with the Southern Suburbs Legal Advice Centre (SSLAC) and trains on gender issues through the Inner Circle. She was also the Co-Founder and former Trustee of Shura Yabafazi (Consultation of Women'); former Chairperson of the South African Recognition of Muslim Marriages Forum; former Chairperson and Board Member of Engender; and former Secretary of the Western Cape branch of NADEL.

Apart from her academic publications, Waheeda publishes in community press and has been interviewed for the popular media on radio and television regarding her work on Muslim marriages in South Africa.

For more information, see her profile on the UCT Academia site.

Current teaching
Human Rights, Legal Pluralism, Religion and Culture (LLM: Department of Public Law)
International Protection of Human Rights (LLM: Department of Public Law)
Legal Pluralism, Religion, Culture and Human Rights (LLB: Department of Private Law)
Constitutional Law (LLB: Department of Public Law)

Previous teaching
African Customary Law (LLB: Department of Private Law)
Muslim Personal Law and Human Rights (LLM: Department of Public Law)
Muslim Personal Law (LLB: Department of Private Law)
Muslim Personal Law and Human Rights module (Department of Religious Studies)
Legal Pluralism in South Africa (School of Law, University of Maryland)
Business Law I (Department of Commercial Law)
Business Law II (Department of Commercial Law)
Certified course in Muslim Personal Law for UCT Law@Work

Selected publications

With Barratt A. and Denson, R. ‘Religious Marriages’, in Barratt A., Amien W. et. al (eds) Law of Persons and the Family (Pearson South Africa, 2017) 401-420 (Print ISBN: 978-1-928-22680-2; Epdf ISBN: 978-1-776-10055-2).

‘Religion and Gender: A Marriage Made In Heaven or Hell?’, in Fielder. L and Topidi. K (eds) Religion as Empowerment – Global Legal Perspectives (Routledge, 2016) ISBN 978-1-4724-3759-4.

‘Arendse v Arendse and Others and Isaacs v Isaacs and Another’, Journal of Comparative Law in South Africa, Volume 2 Number 1 (2015) 118-126.

‘Post-apartheid treatment of religious freedom in the South African public sphere’, in W Sullivan et al (eds) Politics of Religious Freedom (University of Chicago Press, 2015) 179-193.

With Leatt, DA. ‘Legislating Religious Freedom: An Example of Muslim Marriages in South Africa’, Maryland Journal of International Law, Volume 29 (2014) 501-547.

‘The viability for women’s rights of incorporating Islamic inheritance laws into the South African legal system’, Acta Juridica (2014) 192-218. Also published as a chapter in M de Waal and M Paleker (eds) South African Law of Succession and Trusts. The past meeting the present and thoughts for the future (Cape Town: Juta, 2014) 192-218 (ISBN: 978-1-4851-0648-7).

‘The recognition of religious and customary marriages and non-marital domestic partnerships in South Africa’, in J Eekelaar and R George (eds) Routledge Handbook of Family Law and Policy (Oxon: Routledge, 2014) 26-44 (Print ISBN: 978-0-415-64040-4).

‘Reflections on the recognition of African customary marriages in South Africa: Seeking insights for the recognition of Muslim marriages’, 13 Acta Juridica (2013) 357-384. Also published as a chapter in A Claassens and D Smythe (eds) Marriage, Land & Custom: Essays on Law and Social Change in South Africa (Cape Town: Juta, 2013) 357-384 (ISBN: 978-1-4851-0152-9).

‘Comparative Perspectives: South Africa’, in James Dingemans et al (eds) The Protections for Religious Rights: Law and Practice, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) 241-256 (ISBN: 978-0-19-966096-4).

‘The Gendered Benefits and Costs of Legal Pluralism for Muslim Family Law in South Africa’ in Mavis Maclean and John Eekelaar (eds) Managing Family Justice in Diverse Societies (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2013) 107-123.

‘A South African case study for the recognition and regulation of Muslim family law in a minority Muslim secular context’, International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 24:3 (2010) 361-396.

‘Overcoming the conflict between the right to religious freedom and women’s rights to equality - a South African case study of Muslim marriages’, Human Rights Quarterly 28 (2006) 729–754.

‘Muslim Personal Law (MPL) in Canada: A case study considering the conflict between freedom of religion and Muslim women's right to equality’ in Eva Brems (ed) Conflicts between fundamental rights (Antwerp: Intersentia Publishers, 2008) 381-420 (Print ISBN: 978-90-5095-779-3).


Selected awards and achievements:

 - Received the UCT Law Faculty Research Excellence Award - First Prize (April 2012)

 - Awarded UCT Certificate of Recognition For Social Responsiveness (2011)

 - Paper entitled A South African case study for the recognition and/or regulation of Muslim family law for minority Muslims in a multi-religious secular society' selected for presentation at the Harvard/Stanford International Junior Faculty Forum (November 2009)

 - Received the UCT Law Faculty Research Excellence Award - Second Prize (November 2007)