Jordan Gender Relations Part II

By | May 20, 2021

Girls and women as guarantors of family honor

A central element of the patriarchal mentality is also the idea that girls potentially threaten the family honor because they could lose their virginity if they are not married. At the latest with the onset of puberty, and often even before that, girls are therefore subjected to comprehensive monitoring and control mechanisms, which they usually accept without much protest, out of ignorance of their rights or fear of sanctions. Both attitudes – the preference for boys and the fact that female sexuality must be controlled – are not a question of religious affiliation, but rather common among Muslim and Christian Jordanians / Palestinians.

Family and civil status law: women are discriminated against

The so-called civil status and family law (Arabic al-ahwal al-shakhsiya), which regulates existential matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc., is denominational in Jordan (also in Israel and Palestine). This means that there is no uniform marriage, divorce and inheritance law in Jordan, but that church law is applied to Christians, while for the vast majority of Muslims a civil status law applies, which is based on the Sharia or on a of the Sunni law schools. In the current versions (Christian and Muslim), Jordanian civil status law discriminates against women in many ways.

According to hyperrestaurant, the Hanafi law school prevailing in Jordan theoretically allows for solutions that discriminate less against women. However, this possibility is not used in Jordanian legislation and in everyday legal life: women can be married against their will, they need the consent of their father or a male representative to marry; they have to accept up to three concubines; they themselves can only get a divorce with great difficulty, while a man can cast off his wife at any time without giving a reason. In the event of divorce and remarriage, they must renounce their children; they are not allowed to work without the husband’s permission, and not even visit their own parents. Women inherit only half as much as men.

Citizenship Law: Jordan is way behind

Jordanian citizenship law provides that women cannot transfer their own citizenship to their children. Although there are special regulations according to the law, these are often not implemented on site. According to national and international organizations such as Human Rights Watch, the Jordanian state is doing too little to enforce these regulations. For children from binational marriages who live in Jordan and whose mothers are Jordanians, this means that they do not have access to many government services as a matter of course. You will be treated as a foreigner and therefore cannot easily go to school, get your driver’s license or open a bank account. With this practice, Jordan brings up the rear in the MENA region. The criticism international and national organizations have so far largely gone unheard. The argument is often based on Islam – but Islam has nothing to do with this regulation. In fact, the ban was “imported” into several countries in the MENA region when these countries became independent and used European laws at the time as models for national legislation. Several states in the MENA region, including Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt, now enable women to pass on their citizenship to their children.

Jordan Qualified skilled workers

Women’s organizations

Independent women’s organizations that work to improve the living conditions of women and girls have existed in Jordan since the 1940’s. The gender-political impact of the work of the women’s organizations remained limited for two reasons, among others: 1) the strong politicization of some of the organizations (e.g. for the liberation of Palestine), which in some cases led to conflicts with the Jordanian security apparatus or to the closure of organizations; 2) the appropriation and monopoly of the gender issue by members of the royal family, above all by Princess Basma, a sister of King Hussein I. One example is the Jordanian National Women’s Committee.

All Jordanian women’s organizations (more than 90 according to state data) are members of the state-controlled General Federation of Jordanian Women (GFJW)

  • J ordanian Women’s Union
  • Arab Women Organization (Chair: Leila Hamarneh)
  • Sisterhood is Global / Jordan (Chair: Asma Khader)


Homosexuality is not prohibited in Jordan under the Criminal Code. Nevertheless, almost no one comes out, because society vehemently rejects homosexuality to more than 95 percent and a coming out threatens serious consequences from stigmatization and the destruction of social and material existence to physical violence. Conservative forces point to Islam, which is the state religion according to the constitution and which, according to majority opinion, forbids homosexuality. In 2017 the Jordanian authorities prohibited a concert by the Lebanese top band “Mashrua Laila” because one of the band leaders had come out as homosexual and the band also dealt with the topic musically. The motive for the ban was presumably the fear of rioting. The community in Jordan is organized via the Internet, including the portal Rainbow Street. A public discourse about homosexuality has been developing for several years, albeit still very cautiously and mainly in niches, e.g. in the online magazine My.Kali or in the novel “Bride of Amman” by Fadi Zaghmout.