Do I really need my husband’s ‘permission’ to get a passport?

Jordanian bloggers are currently talking about women’s rights in Jordan. Sweet! I like that. The reason for the interest in this issue now is because Jordan recently endorsed a United Nations convention eliminating discrimination against women — albeit with some reservations.

I’m not sure if this endorsement will really mean anything since Jordan did express some concern over clauses that related to the Personal Status Law, citizenship, housing and the free movement of women. I’m assuming that although Jordan endorsed the convention, Jordanian women are still unable to pass citizenship on to their children and will continue to receive half the share of inheritance compared to men [in accordance with Sharia Law, which, in this case, is applied to both Muslim and non-Muslim alike]. I hope I am mistaken.

While reading some of the comments on Roba’s blog, I was surprised to realize that "the law requires a married woman to obtain her husband’s permission to obtain a passport (see Section 2.d.)." Is there anyone out there who would like to make my day and tell me that this antiquated law is no longer enforced? Is this really the case? With all due respect, I see this type of legislation as the epitome of discrimination. Would I need my American husband’s permission to renew my Jordanian passport? I wonder.

Update: Nas just made my day. I do not need permission to get a passport thanks to Provisional Passport Law (No. 5 of 2003). Phew… This is from the Freedom House report on Jordan:

Jordanian law provides citizens the right to travel freely within the country and abroad except in designated military areas. Unlike Jordan’s previous law (No. 2 of 1969), the current Provisional Passport Law (No. 5 of 2003) does not require women to seek permission from their male guardians or husbands in order to renew or obtain a passport. Nevertheless, in several recent cases mothers reportedly could not depart abroad with their children because authorities complied with requests from fathers to prevent their children from leaving the country. Social norms continue to play a major role in maintaining restrictive measures on women’s freedom of movement.

34 thoughts on “Do I really need my husband’s ‘permission’ to get a passport?”

  1. I’m not sure about what happened with that law in particular, but I remember there was a law (and it may very well still be there) that a woman cannot leave the country without her husband’s permission.

  2. Not sure, but I think it is sadly still valid..the other day I needed my husbands signature to add kids to my passport..so maybe it still applies.

  3. Even sadder since they won’t let him get a Jordanian passport. Maybe they would then defer to your dad? time for Hala’s word: EFT.

  4. no its not in effect anymore.

    now i dont think the actual passport law was ever amended because no government has been able to get the bill past the lower house, but i remember this provisional law as being one of a few in the package that the kind put into place when he dissolved parliament. they’ve been trying to amend it officially for about 8 years now and that includes being able to pass citizenship onto children whose father is non-jordanian.

  5. Thanks Nas. I read about the provisional law but I could not find anything anywhere where it said that it was officially approved. What I understood was that some steps were taken to abolish it ( in 1998) but we are not there yet. Am I correct?

  6. in 1998 there was some movement on the amendment to the law but like i said, i think it never actually got passed so instead the king had a provisional law put in place when parliament was dissolved in 2002 or 03

  7. A divorced friend of mine had custody of her daughter but still needed her ex-husband’s permission every time she wanted to take the child with her on a trip outside Jordan. Needless to say he enjoyed the power trip and abused it whenever he could.

  8. Natasha, sorry..i guess you got it though

    Lina: yeah that’s still a big problem that i believe runs more along the lines of how honor crimes work. in other words, social norms dont play nicely with vague laws and judges tend to sympathize with fathers more than the mothers. it much worse in neighboring arab countries. this is what you get when you have a judicial system that’s…balash a7kee.

  9. Yeah I’m not sure how far this is going to go. I mean they had signed the document over a decade ago if I understood the news reports correctly, and now they’re endorsing it? What does that mean?

    Anyway, the UN document obviously creates a conflict in the mind of every Muslim who believes in the Quran, and you gave the best example with the inheritance law. In Islam, women are not as free as men to move around. They don’t get the same share as men in inheritance, and their testimony is not always (or is always not) equal to that of men in court. And most of this is stuff that pretty much cannot be disputed within the boundaries of the religion itself, since it’s in the Quran, which in Islam is the undisputed word of God.

    So should we expect a change in the inheritance law in Jordan? I won’t be holding my breath. You have to ask what Jordan is. Jordan is an overwhelmingly Muslim (and on top of that tribal) country. Giving women the same share in inheritance against clear Quranic text is just not gonna flow, and that will go against the same UN document that our government signed years ago, and endorsed again this year.

    Now I never understood why non Muslims are subject to something like the inheritance law of Islam. Some Muslims say that it’s even better than what it would be if it were left to the church to decide what women get. Implying that Christian women might be at a further disadvantage in that case. I think that’s a week argument, even though I’ve heard it from a Christian too.

  10. Hamzeh,

    Some Muslims say that it’s even better than what it would be if it were left to the church to decide what women get. Implying that Christian women might be at a further disadvantage in that case. I think that’s a week argument, even though I’ve heard it from a Christian too.

    Perhaps those Muslims are unaware of the fact that Christian scriptures (and Christian Churches) are not “the law” in any country on this planet. Not even in Vatican City. You’d have to go back some 500 years to find a nation that enforced Christian scripture as law.

    I won’t comment on the rest, it’s none of my business, but there is no conflict between human rights and Christianity, in any country. If that is an argument Muslims are trying to make, it’s an extraordinarily weak one.

  11. Does Human put by human? Why do we need follow rules put by people where there is s a system put by God. This is an excuse used who do not agree with human rights such as women rights and homosexual.

    Government seeks satisfaction from UN although that is against what people want. They know these agreements are not worth the papers where they singed on them People will not accept that since the old traditions lead Jordanian life.

    I will tell a story .In my town A boy who was around 17 years old killed his friend from different clan. The victim family forced every one who links to killer family to leave village although they are innocent people these were like refugee around city and around more than 100 persons. After some of their house gets burnt, they returned home after 3 months.

    The funny side of story .The family victim decided to get revenge from the killer family .They decided to choose the best person in clan such a doctor …..

    I believe we are Jordanian do not deserve democracy and need long time to understand what does democracy mean. What is worrying me if there will be conflict between Islamic groups and governments and Jordan be like Iraq and Palestin

  12. Ahmad, I’m not sure if you are talking to me, but I’ll answer this part.

    I mean ‘Does Human rights put by human?

    The position on “Human Rights” in the US (as it is written in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence) is that all people are endowed with certain rights that were bestowed upon them by God. God is written as “Creator” in our Bill of Rights. And it is explicitly stated that no governmental power has the authority to take those rights away.

    As for the United Nations, I think their concept is more generic. That all people possess a basic set of human rights by virtue of being human beings. There is no “God” concept in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

    http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html

    Without commenting on Islam, let me ask you Ahmad: Do you trust man to properly interpret God’s will? Do you trust man to properly interpret what is written in the Quran? In Hadiths?

    Because I don’t trust man to do anything but serve himself. For instance, on what basis do can Muslims enforce Sharia on non-Muslims? Did God give Muslims the right to do that? Or is that just man, doing what man wants to do?

  13. Would you want men to be able to take children out of the country without the wife’s permission?

  14. In many countries, whenever children are travelling with only one adult (whether a mother, father or otherwise), a letter of permission is required. As a Canadian who produced a letter to take my daughter both to the United States and back, I am glad to know that someone is checking to make sure that she isn’t being taking away illegally. Of course, someone abducting her would need only to forge a letter but since it requires passport data and other info, I’m hopeful that it is less likely. Of course the land border is much easier to cross.

    But I didn’t need his permission to get *my* passport and I’m grateful for that and many other freedoms.

  15. Dear Craig

    Thank you for useful information about human rights .I asked about human rights if it was put by human although I know the answer. I DO NOT think it is fair to say this is what human need because who put it they were from west. They did not ask if this system will suit people in east or Middle East or Africa.

    You are in state; do you believe that your governments respect human rights? it is hypocritical when countries are accused to break human rights and their culture is too old for this century by your country

    You asked about Islam. I have learnt to read and listen and think …Then I follow what my heart lead me based on knowledge which I get it from books and scholars.
    It is unfair to use human rights as stick to hit poor countries before they make sure the culture will suit the human rights.

    You might have something against Islam, As Muslim m I believe we are the frist nation on earth believe in human rights. Long time agao , we find there is different between black and white or brown or rich and poor people apart of their good work .we never judge people based on their root . I believe in USA untile 1965 there were school for blacks students and white students. Do human rights stand when there are arab student pass through airport in USA.NO?

    Your question about non Muslim …..I can anser your question from different angles

    1-Do you believe in democracy ? Democracy is a political system where the citizens vote on major policy. When majority vote for certain law, this law should be respected .Am I right?

    2-I will not be extremist wit you about that because I believe there are a lot of way to develop Islamic rules to fit in this age. I believe human rights do not conflict with Islamic rules around 95%.

    3-We live in different age and we need to educate people how they can fit this age ..I support to have prime minister from Christian community .

  16. Hi Ahmad,

    Thank you for useful information about human rights .I asked about human rights if it was put by human although I know the answer. I DO NOT think it is fair to say this is what human need because who put it they were from west. They did not ask if this system will suit people in east or Middle East or Africa.

    You may have a point. It depends what you mean by “West”. The modern notion of “human rights” came from the 18th century humanist philosophers of Europe, it’s true, but they based much of their philosophy on past works, particularly the Greeks.

    But the notion of “human rights” is not supposed to be a system of laws, it is supposed to be a basic set of rights that all people can agree is universally understood. Freedom of person, for instance, and the right to self defense. Freedom of expression. Freedom of Religion (nobody can force somebody to “believe” something they don’t accept, right?) and so forth.

    Do you think some of those are not agreed to by people in the Middle East on cultural grounds? Let me ask you… if you moved to the United States and were a Muslim, but the US government forced you to convert to Christianity, do you think that would be a violation of your rights? Or would it be OK? What if the US government decided Islam was an illegal religion here, and put Muslims who were caught practicing their religion in prison? Would that be OK?

    I don’t really accept the idea that these rights are only applicable in some countries, and not in others. I don’t think it’s a case of people not accepting that “human rights” exist. I think it’s a case of people being selective about who has those rights (in their opinion) and who does not.

    You are in state; do you believe that your governments respect human rights?

    I think we do as well with it as anybody does, but we are not perfect.

    it is hypocritical when countries are accused to break human rights and their culture is too old for this century by your country

    Our country is new. Our culture is not. The early colonists (and the founding Fathers of America) were all English by nationality. The English have been civilized slightly longer than Arabs. But not by much, I’ll grant you.

    It is unfair to use human rights as stick to hit poor countries before they make sure the culture will suit the human rights.

    I don’t agree that it is unfair. Most of the criticism of Israel is based on purported human rights violations. Why is it OK to beat up Israel on human rights, but not Muslim countries? As a Christian, I can’t even bring a Bible to Saudi Arabia. I can’t go to a Church in Saudi Arabia, because there aren’t any. There are places in Saudi Arabia that only Muslims can go. I am required to follow laws that are supposed to be only for Muslims, even though I am not a Muslim. I could even be prosecuted for breaking laws that are supposed to only be for Muslims. Is there anything in Israel that is comparable? Would I be discriminated against,as a Christian, in the same way, in Israel?

    And lets not even get started on other human rights violations in KSA.

    You might have something against Islam, As Muslim m I believe we are the frist nation on earth believe in human rights.

    OK. You are free to believe that. I don’t know enough to argue it with you.

    Long time agao , we find there is different between black and white or brown or rich and poor people apart of their good work .we never judge people based on their root .

    As long as they converted to Islam and learned Arabic, right? 🙂

    continuing in another comment…

  17. I believe in USA untile 1965 there were school for blacks students and white students.

    Very true. But racism is not a human rights issue. It is a civil rights issue. Slavery, which existed in the US until 1865, was a human rights issue.

    Do human rights stand when there are arab student pass through airport in USA.NO?

    Again, this is outside of the scope of human rights. It would be a civil rights issue. And I am not prepared to concede that the civil rights of Arabs are being violated by the Department of Homeland Security. The scope of “Human Rights” is actually pretty narrow. It has to be, because human rights are supposed to be universally accepted. Civil Rights, on the other hand, apply only within a society. Never outside of it. And every society is free to define their own civil rights.

    1-Do you believe in democracy ?

    Yes I do.

    Democracy is a political system where the citizens vote on major policy. When majority vote for certain law, this law should be respected .Am I right?

    No, I don’t agree with that. Laws must be fair and just, and respect the rights of all. If the majority votes in a law that affords them (the majority) a special status or preferential treatment, that is what we call a “tyranny of the majority”. That isn’t a democratic concept.

    2-I will not be extremist wit you about that because I believe there are a lot of way to develop Islamic rules to fit in this age. I believe human rights do not conflict with Islamic rules around 95%.

    Well, Islamic rules clearly contradict one very important human right. Freedom of Religion. If you force non-Muslims to comply with Islamic rules, you have violated that one.

    3-We live in different age and we need to educate people how they can fit this age ..I support to have prime minister from Christian community .

    I understand what you are saying. My ex-wife is Chinese, and she grew up in communist China. She used to say there was no such thing as “human rights”. And she actually believed that. But long story short, I don’t believe the UN makes any attempt at all to enforce their own laws on Human Rights, so it’s not very important, is it? Those countries that respect human rights, do so because they wish to. Because it is what those societies have defined for themselves. All anybody can do about countries that don’t respect human rights is complain, and support internal rights movements when they arise. That’s my opinion, anyway.

  18. You said [Well, Islamic rules clearly contradict one very important human right. Freedom of Religion. …..]

    There is a sign to chnages going on middle east.But the problems ,People are not enough eductaed wellto accept these chnages…. Please the fellow article,

    CAIRO: Egypt’s official religious adviser has ruled that Muslims are free to change their faith as it is a matter between an individual and God, in a move which could have far-reaching implications for the country’s Christians. “The essential question before us is can a person who is Muslim choose a religion other than Islam? The answer is yes, they can,” Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said in a posting on a Washington Post-Newsweek forum picked up by the Egyptian press on Tuesday.

    “The act of abandoning one’s religion is a sin punishable by God on the Day of Judgment. If the case in question is one of merely rejecting one’s faith, then there is no worldly punishment,” he wrote. In many Muslim societies, converts to other religions are considered apostates and can be subject to capital punishment.

    Gomaa said that if the conversions undermine the “foundations of society” then it must be dealt with by the judicial system, without elaborating. Attempts by Muslims in Egypt to convert to other religions have been hindered by the state’s refusal to recognize the change in official documents and in some cases have led to arrests and imprisonment.

    “Even though it is not a criminal offense in Egypt, they get detained under emergency laws or are put on trial for contempt of religion if they wish to convert,” said Hossam Bahgat of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

    “This [ruling] is significant, especially coming from Gomaa,” he added. “Between 2004 and now there have been many court cases involving Christian converts to Islam that want to convert back to Christianity who are unable to do so,” said Bahgat, who is involved with a case of 12 former Copts who converted to Islam and are now trying to revert.

    A spokesman for Dar al- Iftaa, the body headed by Gomaa which is responsible for issuing religious opinions, maintained that the mufti’s stance has not changed. “The posting is consistent with the mufti’s past fatwas,” he told AFP. “Apostasy is only punishable when it is considered akin to subversion.”

    The issue of apostasy is a thorny one in the Islamic world, with one extremist interpretation declaring that apostates should be killed. “The punishment for apostasy is controversial,” judge Ahmad Mekky, the deputy head of Egypt’s Supreme Court, told AFP. “There is nothing in any Koranic text about this.”

    The case of the 12 Copts, whose request to revert was denied by a lower court in April, goes in front of the Supreme Court in September, and Bahgat said they will use Gomaa’s posting to bolster their case. “Gomaa is a civil servant, the top religious adviser of the state, and technically speaking the deputy justice minister,” he said. “So his views on the matter carry authority.

  19. You said ((If you force non-Muslims to comply with Islamic rules, you have violated that one))

    In jordan , our christian community are not different from us.It is very difficult to say who is muslim or not. If you tell me about saudi arabia or iran, Do not foregt muslims who live in these countries have not get human rights for themsselve.what about mainority .. may god help them.

  20. Nothing to say, but I have to say this, in jordan muslims and christians lived together for centuries, jordan is a special case and I hope it will stay like this or lets I hope that the coexistence between us in jordan becomes the norm.

    The city that I originally come from we have almost 35% christians, the mosques are next to the churches, christians fast with us in ramadan and when the fasting ends we eat together, christmas is celebrated just like we celebrate any muslim holiday, BUT jordanian christians are still considered tribal and the culture still plays a great role on how we interact with each other, but rest assured christians in jordan don’t fall under the islamic law, they have their own courts to solve any dispute, but to be honest I don’t know what happens if there was a dispute between a muslim and a christian which I think most likely will be solved the traditional tribal way.

    Gos bless jordan..

    Sorry for any typos:)

  21. “The English have been civilized slightly longer than Arabs.”

    ya right,civilised in slaving millions of African , slaughtering 1000s of Indians and Pakistanis, killing 1000s of Arabs, enslaving millions of Africans, Asians and even North Europeans immigrants ,using chemical weapons in 1920 in Iraq, dividing the whole world as pie to conquer and blunder and let us not to forget,the instalments and support of dictators and corrupt royal family such as “the royals” of Saudi Arabia and many others.

  22. I did not notice that you (Craig) answered me by two posters.I will try to find times to reply you on your first poster because I am so busy these days .

    Anyway I would like to add last thing about slavers .I challenge you if you could bring to me something in history calling to free slavers Before UK decided to prevent slavers trade two hundred years ago. In islam Muslims were told to free slavers for wiping sins before 1400 years. For example if I breakfast in Ramadan without an excuse you could wipe the sin by freeing slavers. In Islam, There are more than 20 ways to wipe sins by freeing slavers.

    You might find this sound strange about this system . But please think how was the life before 1400 years ago.. I am not saying other cultures like Greeks or roman did not have some good things but I have not heard or read there is ancient history talks about human rights more than Islam. I believe in human rights but the rights could be applied not rights is suit for USA or west..

    Finally, You said (As long as they converted to Islam and learned Arabic, right? 🙂 I am going to quote a verses from holy book Quran to prove you are wrong , Please read the first word in verses ,Allah said men((( he did not say Muslims or Arabs or non- Muslims) men means her in Arabic culture referring for women and men .

    God says: “O men! We have created you from a single pair, a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you”

    وقال تعالى عز وجل “يا ايها الناس انا خلقناكم من ذكر وانثى Ùˆ جعلناكم شعوبا وقبائل لتعارفوا ان اكرمكم عند الله اتقاكم

  23. God also says: “O men! We have created you from a single pair, a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you”

    وقال تعالى عز وجل “يا ايها الناس انا خلقناكم من ذكر وانثى Ùˆ جعلناكم شعوبا وقبائل لتعارفوا ان اكرمكم عند الله اتقاكم ” (Sura Al-Hujurat, 49/13).

    The Prophet , peace be upon him , said : “ People are all equal like the dents of a comb”

    قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : “الناس سواسية كاسنان المشط”

    He , PBUH, also said : “No preference is allowed to an Arab over a non –Arab , or to a non-Arab over an Arab , or to a white over a black nor to a black over a white except by righteousness and piety”.

    وقال عليه افضل الصلاة والسلام : ” ليس لعربي على اعجمي ولا لاعجمي على عربي ولا لابيض على اسود ولا لاسود على ابيض فضل الا

  24. Alurdunialhurr,

    ya right, blah blah blah….

    Yes. Right. The English have been civilized since the time that Arabs were bedouin pagans in the Arabian desert. Your racist opinions about them don’t change historical fact.

  25. Ahmad,

    Anyway I would like to add last thing about slavers .I challenge you if you could bring to me something in history calling to free slavers Before UK decided to prevent slavers trade two hundred years ago. In islam Muslims were told to free slavers for wiping sins before 1400 years.

    You are arguing semantics. Muslims were told they should free some of their slaves as penances for some sins, yes. Muslims were also told they could take slaves freely from among their defeated enemies. And people were also made slaves as penance for sins. Slavery was quite common in Muslim lands all throughout Islam’s history. Some would say that it still is.

    Islam can not claim any moral high ground on the issue of slavery.

    “O men! We have created you from a single pair, a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you”

    Nice words. What about deeds? 🙂

    I’ll skip the rest. I don’t really want to talk about religion. I’ve said I don’t know enough about Islam to argue with you about it. I don’t see much evidence of a lot of tolerance in the history of Islam, though. I’ll leave it at that.

  26. Ok Craig it is better to stop it because I can not afford time to reply you on your posters. Last thing:

    You said “Muslims were also told they could take slaves freely from among their defeated enemies. And people were also made slaves as penance for sins. Slavery was quite common in Muslim lands all throughout Islam’s history. Some would say that it still is”

    I am going to answer you through points:

    1- Did Islam start slaving people or it was before Islam? I guess it was before Islam.
    2- Once I asked an expert in Islam about why Islam allow for slaving during prophet life. He said. In that time, in the war people were taken as slaves when they captured through war. Thus Muslims had to use the same technique for scaring their enemies. Craig if someone punishes you with metal stick, will you reply to him by using plastic sticks. You have forgotten that Muslims were taken as slaves during the war.

    3-If Islam call to slave people and take freedom from them, why sharia law impose rules to fee slave to wipe sins.

    You said[What about deeds]…I don’t understand what you mean by this question.The verses was cleared .

    I’ll skip the rest. I don’t really want to talk about religion. I’ve said I don’t know enough about Islam to argue with you about it. I don’t see much evidence of a lot of tolerance in the history of Islam, though. I’ll leave it at that. I am not talking here to convert you .But I and other are seeking to change the dark picture in west about Islam.

    Peace brother

  27. Get real… to judge another culture based on your own narrow world-view and cultural bias is the height of arrogance. This is just basic common sense when it comes to cross cultural assessments. Feminism may be alive and not-so-well in Western society, but it is considered akin to mental illness in many non-westernized cultures.

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