The half-adult status of women in Jordan

I’ve been pretty much obsessed with this topic for more than 10 years now. Back then, I wrote this post, such anger and passion! I feel I need to re-stress the issue 10 years later with a less angrier voice yet still maintain the same passion.

Women aged 18 till 40 in Jordan are not treated fully as adults.

While they are treated as full adults in all criminal aspects in the law, as well as their ability to vote, work, open and be responsible for a business; the choice of where they live, travel are limited by the guardianship of their fathers. When married, the guardianship transfers to their husbands.

Over the years, I’ve tried to speak to a number of lawyers and women rights activists. Many have discouraged me from going loud when it comes to this topic. Their reasoning was focused on sentences like “Don’t poke the bear”, “this is a sensitive issue”, “the time to talk about this has still to come”…etc.

I am no lawyer and not a formal activist, yet I am a feminist to my core and I’d like to think I have a great degree of common sense. How, just how we can ignore the woman guardianship issue? How can we work on many other issues of importance and leave out this crucial foundation of who a woman is in Jordan out of our main efforts? A lot of great effort went on fighting to maintain high sentencing on men accused of killing their wives, daughters and sisters in order to lessen the occurrence of this deadly phenomenon, the right for a woman to refuse marrying her rapist (accomplished only in 2017), the right for a mother to make medical decisions about her children in absence of her husband (2018?), the right for women to give citizenship to their children (in progress) and several others.

The stories of young women who decided to leave their parents homes and live alone, only to become on the “wanted list” by local police, shamefully dragged back to their parent’s place by force of law. Others who are prevented from leaving the country by their fathers listing their names with local authorities at airports and borders.

If some start thinking along the ways of “this is outragous!”, “we need to control women”, “this might degrade our moral values”…etc. Lets engage that conversation. This young woman you are trying to control can already be a mother, of all responsible things a person can do in this life!

If the young women of Jordan are not encouraged to be independent, to speak their minds to see the sky being the limit, how do we expect them to fight for the many other causes important to them as women and to the overall equality of rights and opportunity we seek under the law?

I honestly feel there will be no significant progress to the Women Rights & Equality efforts unless we start poking this bear and start real effort in fully equating the right of a women to be free in her mobility, living arrangements, travel, marrying whomever she wants to marry without need of approval of a guardian!

Razan Khatib

Razan Khatib

Playing at the intersection of culture, technology, and values. Trying to structure my thoughts and share experiences, learnings, and insights. Co-founder of @spring_apps
Amman, Jordan