The National agenda and women’s rights

Nas at Black Iris has addressed the issue of skepticism amongst Jordanians over changes promised in the upcoming national agenda, a 10-year political and economic reform plan. Well, I have to admit I’m one of those skeptics, particularly when it comes to the agenda’s ambitious plan of "removing legal discrimination against women," as discussed by Marwan Muasher in this news article.

I’m not sure how removing the "legal discrimination against women" will be achieved without facing social, religious and even tribal obstacles. Will this national agenda give my future children — who will have a non-Jordanian father — the right to Jordanian citizenship? Or will they always need a visa every time they enter Jordan, as is the case today for children with foreign fathers? Is it really possible that Jordanian women will become the only women in the Arab world that can pass their citizenship on to their children?

As it has been explained to me many times -– off the record, of course — this rule was created to stop Palestinians from getting citizenship by marrying non-Palestinian Arabs! I’m not really sure how accurate this explanation is. But if it is accurate, would the Jordanian government ever find the fortitude to set this political dilemma aside so women could have the basic human right of granting their children citizenship?

Will Jordanian women, regardless of their religion, ever be granted their full share of the inheritance and not be given half the share that their male siblings get? Will Jordan be able to put the Sharia law aside and treat women equally when it comes to inheritance? Will the Jordanian government be able to face the theological and the social challenges that will come with this step?

Will Jordanian women ever dream of becoming prime ministers? Will a patriarchal society ever be able to digest this idea?

Will those committing honor crimes ever be given the punishment they deserve instead of getting away with their barbaric deeds with only a few months in jail? Will the society ever digest the idea that women practicing non-marital sex should not — in any case — be punished with death?

Will such changes ever happen? Is this really what those behind the national agenda are striving to achieve? Could such drastic changes ever occur? The optimist in me says it is possible. But the skeptic in me is convinced that I will never live to see the day. Only time will tell.

9 thoughts on “The National agenda and women’s rights”

  1. Your asking for an “Islamic” country to ignore basic tenets of the Quran.
    The answeres to all your questions is … No it will not happen without a seperation of church and state which is highly unlikely if not imposible.

  2. We need a seperation of “Mosque” and state. Look at the Monarch utelizing all countries resources to go and preach of ” the true Islam. ” hehehe . Will not work.

  3. Natasha, I don’t think we’ll live to see everything that you wished for in the article happening in Jordan.
    I personally hope to see everything that you mentioned in your article happen, all except removing the inheritance rule and “pushing the Sharee’a aside”. I personally do not think the inheritance rule qualifies as an infringement on women’s rights. I’ve lived both in Jordan and in the United States long enough and I have observed men in both sides of the World having to bear most of the financial burdon of supporting a household. I think this is the number one reason why this rule makes sense and I think it should stay that way. In any case, a secular law that omits this rule cannot prevent a person from writing a will that demands distributing the inheritance according to Islamic calculations!
    I think if we resolve the shame crimes problem then we’ve crossed a huge milestone. I think out of everything else, this is the one we need the most and in the short term too.

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  5. Hamzeh,
    The problem with the current inheritance law is that it is applied on everyone, including those who belong to religious minorities that do not follow Sharia. Also it mandates a certain lifestyle that not everyone couple wants to abide to. In this time and day, it is not unusual if the woman makes more money than the husband and in many cases women contribute a bigger share to the household than that provided by the husband. I’m not making this up. I have seen it in real life.
    Also sometimes, the couple mutually agrees that the husband becomes a stay-home dad while the woman pursues her career. I personally would support my husband if he decides to be a stay-home dad. At the end of the day, this is something decided between the couple.
    The inheritance law is based on the fact that the man is the only bread winner which is no longer the case. Time has changed. I reiterate, women should be treated equally when it comes to inheritance.
    Something else, according to the current inheritance law if the person who wants to distribute his/her inheritance doesn’t have sons and only has daughters then the money will be shared with the closest male relatives of the family which are in this case the cousins… Do you think this is fair?

  6. I wasn’t aware that the Islamic inheritance rules apply to non Muslims in Jordan, I highly doubt that because I think those matters are resolved through Al Mahkameh Al Shar3eyyeh which I didn’t think interferes with non Muslims.
    About the cases where women bear a larger share of the financial burdon in the household, I can think of two points why such cases do not warrant a change in the law:
    1- The male partner is still inheriting a sum that is larger than that which he would inherit under the suggested change, therefore in almost all situations the differences in the two scenarios cancel each other out.
    2- These cases are far from being common to warrant a change in the law to begin with, so considering what I said in point (1) above, the number of cases where really there is truely a financial loss to the household directly due to this law is even smaller and I believe Islam accommodates such cases if the persons involved are willing to come forward and present the case in front of the judge at the time of splitting the inheritance.
    And about the last point of always having to trace the closes male relative before getting to the females, I think it’s not true, I don’t remember nephews and neices being included in the inheritance. And I think the male vs. female rule actually only applies to the children. As an example, I know that if a deceased man had only one daughter and left his parents alive, the daughter takes half, which is more than his father. Ok, I don’t wanna dive into more details without being 100% sure. I think this is the point where one should probably refer to text books that discuss this subject in detail.

  7. Hamzeh,
    I have checked the inheritance law a number of times since it is my family’s dilemma as we don’t follow sharia and my parents do not have sons.
    The inheritance still goes to the male cousins in absence of sons and it is applied on all segments of the society—regardless of their religion. You don’t remember your cousins being involved in the inheritance obviously because your presence in the family as a male will cancel their involvement.
    I’m talking from an experience here, but then again maybe that’s not what the original texts say but at least that’s what the common practice is.

  8. We have faced similar issues, although I think our chance of having them resolved in our favour is far off. My wife, being a Saudi citizen, requires permission to marry a non Saudi. This is easy for a male Saudi to get, much harder for a female Saudi to get, especially if she is marrying a Westerner. It requires money, “wasta”, or both.
    Why is this important? Well, we cannot visit Saudi to see friends and family unless we are legally married through the Saudi authorities. If she was anything but a Saudi the government there would accept our state marriage and our marriage through the mosque.
    Second, our children will not be considered Saudi. Not a big deal in most circumstances. I mean, what is a Saudi passport useful for now at days? But here in DC we have a Saudi private school that is very good, but to get in without paying sky high fees one must be Saudi.

  9. The Carnival of Feminists, Issue 3

    Elsewhere in the world the prospect for women in politics is more bleak. The promised changes for women in the national agenda for Jordan has some bloggers skeptical. Mental Mayhem lists the reasons for her skepticism in an essay tht asks, “Will Jordan…

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