Culture And The Law: Why Do They Sometimes Clash?

Culture and the law often clash with each other and this is a problem that prosecutors, judges and lawyers have to deal with more frequently than ever before. As most people already realize, different countries have different laws. What is acceptable in one country is not acceptable in another. What is legal in one country is not legal in another. Furthermore, the punishment for certain crimes vary from country to country.

Globalization has brought about a great deal of cultural intermingling. Many people who move to a new country are unaware of its laws and mores. Some years back, there was a case in Dubai that got a lot of local and international attention. A couple of tourists who were not married to each other decided to get drunk and have sex with each other on the beach. This would hardly raise an eyebrow in Europe. In Dubai, however, it is illegal and the offenders ended up spending some time in jail, along with being fined for their highly immoral behavior.

Criminal Behavior

Not all cases are as innocent as the one noted above. Other cases involve crimes such as:

–  Honor killings
–  Violence in arranged marriages
–  Custody disputes
–  Violence against women
–  Discrimination

Crimes such as murder and assault cannot be justified. However, judges and law enforcement officials who handle these cases are not dealing with average criminals. Average criminals commit crimes for personal gain. Those who are guilty of honor-based crimes do what they do because they truly believe it is the right course of action for all involved.

Culture, Religion and Law

In some instances, the clash is not between culture and law but culture and religion. Cultural mores are usually based on a country’s religious beliefs and in some cases the law is based on the religious belief of the country in question. Religious laws hold sway in Israel and most Muslim countries and those who are seen to have committed crimes against a country’s religion are often deemed criminals and may face legal repercussions.

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A person who is moving to a new country should not only try to learn the language of the country in question but also learn about its culture. This can prevent a person from doing or saying something that may be construed as criminal behavior in the country in question. Being aware of a country’s culture can also prevent a foreigner from making mistakes that can result in loss of friends and/or business opportunities.

The law of the country a person’s resides in is what determines whether a person’s actions are legal or illegal. However, being aware of a person’s culture can help one better understand why a person does or does not do something that may seem to be immoral or illegal in some way. A person living outside of his or her native country should be aware of the culture of the country in which he or she resides. Cultural awareness is not just something that is nice to learn about. It is a very important part of adapting to a globalized world where countries and large cities are now composed of numerous ethnic and religious groups who all, in the end, want what is best for their families, friends and loved ones.

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