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Fatima Essop

Fatima Essop is an advocate of the High Court of South Africa and has practiced as an attorney (solicitor) and advocate (barrister) in the areas of constitutional law, administrative law, environmental law, equality court litigation, and family law. She is an accredited family law mediator with experience in Muslim family law. She holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town’s Law Faculty. She also has a BA in Islamic Law from the International Peace College of South Africa and holds a certificate in Islamic Finance from the ETHICA Institute of Islamic Finance based in the United Arab Emirates.

Fatima is a scholar of Islamic law and sociolegal studies and has undertaken empirical research in the areas of Islamic divorce and inheritance in order to identify the disparities between the theory of law and the lived reality of the law, as experienced by the Muslim minority community in South Africa. Her research interests include constitutional law, religious law, and legal pluralism. She is particularly interested in how minority religious communities balance their religious rights and cultural rights with constitutional rights to equality and freedom, in a constitutional democracy. She was a visiting fellow in the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World at Harvard Law School, where her research project focused on making the Islamic laws of marriage, divorce, and inheritance more accessible to legal practitioners, officials at Muslim judicial bodies, and the lay public.