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press release by JWU on the end of 16 days of activism

A press release by Jordanian Women’s Union Association:

The Personal Status Law is the foundation of all legislations when we speak of a legislative system that provides protection for all women. No legislation can be balanced and achieve justice and equality in protection unless the Personal Status Law is a statutory law based on treating all citizens with equality and justice. Given the fact that JWU has been aiming all the time to make amendments which some of them has been achieved while the majority has not yet been achieved. JWU dedicated the campaign of the 16 days of activism this year to be around the main goal, a unified law that achieved justice and equality for everyone, which means men, women and children within the family.

Based on that, JWU organized a training for 25 volunteer lawyers from JWU, where the main issues that reflect the disputes between families under the Personal Status Law were discussed. Divorce rates in Jordan change annually, yet there were 28703 divorce cases in 2021, which means a high incitement of disputes between families and their reflection on children. We believe that the Personal Status Law regulates the relations within the family, similar to the constitution that regulates the political, economic and social activity in the country. If the Personal Status Law is amended, women’s status as well as their political and cultural participation will definitely be improved.

The volunteers toured during a week over 15 locations in Jordan, addressed all controversial issues in an exceptionally short period where they made a great achievement by meeting a total of 450 women. They shared their recommendations with us, therefore it is our duty to complete these recommendations and reach a Family Law that achieves equality. A celebration in the end of 16 days of activism campaign was organized and attended by 500 people, representing embassies, UN agencies, partner organizations and associations in addition to women who shared their recommendations. The program included a speech by JWU president Ms. Amenah Al-Zoubi, who talked about JWU’s persistence to continue the struggle until women’s goal of equality is achieved. While Ms. Aicha Mukhtar, the Deputy Country Director of UN Women Jordan, spoke on the role of UN Women in supporting partner organizations efforts to achieve gender equality globally and how proud she is in the partnership between UN Women and JWU under the Jordan National Action Plan project for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women in peace and security. Ms. Mukhtar also said that she is proud of UN Women support for the 16 days of activism to end violence against women campaign, which shows the strength of feminist organizations in ending violence against women, and UN Women’s strive to develop national action plans and amending the legal reforms that contribute to ending gender-based violence. Furthermore, she mentioned that the recommendations that came from the 500 women in the different governorates will enrich the discussions and be strong tool to achieve justice and equality.

During the ceremony JWU honored three of the leading women from the generation that established the organization and kept the relationship with the next generations. Lara Elayan, a distinguished singer, performed some of her original and folklore songs, accompanied in the end with some women she is training as part of a music therapy program.

Aseel Abu Al-Bandora presented the recommendations that came from the 15 courses across Jordan which came as follows:

1-         The age of marriage should be 18 years for both sexes without any reservations.

In many locations, women said that the age of 18 is also not suitable for building a family, but we have to raise the age of marriage to 22 years.

The current law stipulates in Article 10: The age of marriage is 18 years, and in Article B it gives the power of the Chief Justice to make an exception to the marriage contract of a person who has reached the age of sixteen if his marriage is necessary by the interest.

2-         Alimony is payable on the man and the woman if the woman is employed, each according to his income. Everyone insisted that the man should not be forced to marry the affluent woman.

In one site there was a discussion about women not spending even if they were working

Article 59 of the law states: The alimony of every person from his wealth except the wife, and her alimony is on her husband, even if she is working.

3-         The custody should be for the father after the mother.

However, the current law, according to Article 170, gives custody respectively to the mother, then to the mother's mother, then to the father's mother and then to the father. That is, the order of the father is fourth.

4-         The guardianship of a woman over herself. However, the recommendations said that guardianship in marriage should remain on both sexes until the age of 25.

Article 185 of the law stipulates that the guardian may join the female if she is under the age of thirty and is not safe for herself.

5-         Joint guardianship of children.

The laws stipulate that guardianship is always for men and women have only custody of children.

6-         The two parties, the man and the woman, shall share the property after death or in the event of separation.

There is no legal provision in the current law that gives women the right to share in the money obtained in marriage, which makes some women vulnerable to losing their dignity in a comfortable life if there is a divorce or death of the husband, and this applies to poor men.

7-         A woman's custody of her children shall not be forfeited in the event that she marries another.

Article 171 (b) states: The custody of the mother shall be forfeited in the event that she marries a non-mahram to the child.

8-         The right of the child to be attributed to his father in the event that this is proved.

We know that there are no tests conducted in the law that force parents to abandon their children, so this is an addition to the law. The use of modern scientific means of proof in proving parentage and holding the father and mother responsible for raising the child and giving him parentage and not remaining without parentage in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which stipulates the right of the child to a name and lineage worthy of his dignity.

9-         Proof of written divorce and that oral divorce is not taken.

Due to the problems caused by oral divorce and the inability to prove, the participants proposed a mechanism to prove divorce, which is writing.

10-       Caring for needy parents, whether they are for the mother or father.

In order to preserve the dignity of the elderly, and so that children are equal in the service of the elderly, the participants suggested the need to give the right to men and women to take care of their elderly and poor parents.

The participants also recommended the need to open a societal debate and educate the community on the demands of the law that constitute an obstacle to the stability of rights.