Dr Rajnaara C. Akhtar

Job: Senior Lecturer

Faculty: Business and Law

School/department: Leicester De Montfort Law School

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 205 6112

E: rajnaara.akhtar@dmu.ac.uk

W: https://unregisteredmarriages.org/


Personal profile

Rajnaara received her PhD from the University of Warwick in 2013, where she continued as a part-time lecturer before joining Leicester De Montfort University Law School in February 2016. Her research focussed on Legal pluralism and dispute resolution.

Her current research interests include unregistered marriages in Britain with a focus on normative influences, legal consequences, autonomy and cultural expression. She is further developing her research interests in the global south, particularly law and gender, care, social reproduction, and children in South East Asia.

Rajnaara obtained an LLM in Human Rights Law from the University of Nottingham and is also a qualified solicitor, having trained with international law firm Eversheds LLP.  She completed the Legal Practice Course at Nottingham Law School.

Rajnaara teaches at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. Her teaching areas include Family Law, Child Law, Human Rights, International Law, and Gender and the Law.  

Publications and outputs 

R.C. Akhtar (2018) 'Modern Traditions in Muslim Marriage Practices, Exploring English Narratives' (Under Review)

Rajnaara Akhtar (2018) 'The human right to marry: a refugee’s perspective', Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, DOI: 10.1080/09649069.2018.1451013

R.C. Akhtar (2018) ‘Unregistered Muslim Marriages in the UK; Examining Normative Influences Shaping Choice of Legal Protection’, in M.C. Foblets (et al) (Eds) (2018), Personal Autonomy in Plural Societies, A Principle and its Paradoxes, Routledge: Law and Anthropology  

Book Review in Child and Family Law Quarterly, 3 (2017): M. Zee (2016) Choosing Sharia? Multiculturalism, Islamic Fundamentalism & Sharia Councils, Eleven International Publishing

R.C. Akhtar, 'Unregistered Muslim Marriages: An Emerging Culture of Celebrating Rites and Compromising Rights', in R Probert, J Miles and P Mody (2015) Marriage Rites and Rights, Hart Publishing, Oxford

R. C. Akhtar, (2013) 'Towards Conceptualising User-Friendly Shariah Councils' Journal of Islamic State Practice in International Law, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 112-135.

Book Review: Islam and the Secular State, Negotiating the Future of Shari'a (Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im), Law, Social Justice & Global Development Journal (LGD), Issue 16, 2011 (1)

R. C. Akhtar, ‘Muslim women, the Hijab and Activism in the United Kingdom’ in T Gabriel and R Hannan (Eds) (2011) Islam and the Veil, Continuum Books

R.C. Akhtar (2010) 'British Muslims and the Evolution of the Practice of Islamic Law with Particular Reference to Dispute Resolution' Journal of Islamic State Practice in International Law, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp27-39

Research interests/expertise

  • Legal Pluralism
  • Unregistered Marriages/Family Law
  • Gender
  • Care and Social Reproduction
  • Children and Child Carers
  • Human Rights

Areas of teaching

  • Family Law
  • Child Law
  • Human Rights Law
  • Gender and the Law
  • International Law


LLB (University of Leicester)

LPC (Nottingham Law School)

LLM (University of Nottingham)

PhD (University of Warwick)

Courses taught

Family Law

Gender and Law

International Child Law

Membership of external committees

DMU Representative, Society of Legal Scholars

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Commission on Legal Pluralism (member)
  • Society of Legal Scholars (member)
  • Socio-Legal Studies Association (member)
  • International Society of Family Law (member)
  • Admitted to the Law Society (Qualified Solicitor – non-practicing)


Forthcoming events

  • Europe’s New Migrants: Marriage Practices and Policies, 16-18 April 2018, Birmingham 
  • Re-formulating Matrimony and post-matrimony in Islamic Law: New Questions and Responses Amongst Muslims in Europe, 25-26 June 2018, Oxford
  • International Course on Legal Pluralism 17-20 August 2018, Ottawa, Canada

Conference attendance

International conference, in collaboration with Prof. Annelies Moors (University of Amsterdam), 'Unregistered Muslim Marriages, Regluations and Contestations', April 2017, 

Joint seminar organiser (with Prof. Ann Stewart), ‘Worlds Apart? Sharing Perspectives on Social Reproduction and Strategies in Relation to Care’, March 2015

Conferences/ Papers

'Liminality: Unregistered  Marriages as Signs of Integration'
SLSA Annual Conference
26-29 March 2018
Bristol, UK

'Unregistered  Marriages in Human Rights Discourse'
SLS Annual Conference
5-8 September 2017
Dublin, Ireland

'Unregistered  Marriages in Human Rights Discourse'
International Society of Family Law World Conference
25-29 July 2017
Amsterdam, Netherlands

6th Annual Conference of the International Society of Child Indicators 
28-30 June 2017
Montreal, Canada 

'Unregistered Muslim Marriages in the UK; Examining Normative Influences Shaping Choice of Legal Protection'
SLSA Annual Conference
5-7 April 2016
Lancaster University, UK

'Unregistered Muslim Marriages'
23 October 2015
Ghent University, Belgium

Counselling and Mediation Amongst Muslims in Europe
18 September 2014
Leiden University, The Netherlands

Mediation and Religious Arbitration, Thinking Through the Issues of Gender Equality and Justice in Family Law Disputes
10 June 2014
SOAS, London

(Not) Outside my Culture: The Paradoxes of Personal Autonomy in a Plural Society
26-28 May 2014
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Germany

Islamic Family Law in Modern Europe and the Muslim World: Normative, Legal and Empirical Approaches Beyond the Women's Rights Issues
19-21 June 2013
University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands 

Externally funded research grants information

SLSA Mentorship Award 2016-2017. 

Seed-corn funding from ERC Project 2013-AdG-324180, 'Problematizing 'Muslim Marriages': Ambiguities and Contestations. Initial fieldwork focussing on Muslim marriage practices in England.

Internally funded research project information

Unregistered Muslim Mariages Project, Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEFCE), October 2016-July 2017. Project lead. Focussing on non-state registered marriages: recognition, regulation, culturalisation and contestations. Output to include peer reviewed journal special/themed issue. 

Professional esteem indicators

Co-Editor in Chief for the Journal of Law, Social Justice and Global Development


Integration: Seeing the Bigger Picture, Law and Religion UK, Rebecca Probert and Rajnaara Akhtar, 21 March 2018

Gal Gadot, Amena Khan and the Perils of Being Famous, Female and Having Political Opinions, The Conversation, Rajnaara Akhtar and Kate Wilkinson Cross, 26 January 2018



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