Jordan ‘discriminatory’ stance on women criticized by rights group

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AMMAN: The global advocacy group Human Rights Watch has criticized Jordan for what it claims is a discriminatory policy toward women over the issue of nationality.

In a report released on Tuesday, the organization said Jordan violated both international law and its own constitution, which guarantees all Jordanians equality before the law.

In spite of progress made by other countries across the Middle East and North Africa to allow women to pass their nationality on to their children, Jordan has no plans to amend its nationality law.

Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen provide equal rights to women and men to confer citizenship to their children. Iraq and Mauritania allow women with foreign husbands to confer nationality to children born in the country.

Jordanian authorities restrict the rights of non-citizen children of Jordanian women to work, own property, travel, enrol in higher education, and access government health care and other services.

“This is the first comprehensive report that deals with the half measures adopted in 2014 and shows that the government didn’t make any serious change of laws and regulations,” Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher for HRW, told Arab News.

In 2014, following domestic pressure, Jordanian authorities appeared ready to recognize non-citizen children of Jordanian women. The Cabinet issued a decision purporting to ease restrictions on their access to employment opportunities, public education, government health care, property ownership, investment and acquiring a driver’s license.

Almost half the Jordanian population are citizens of Palestinian origin, with 2 million registered refugees who are also citizens of Jordan. The report explained the argument used to deny Jordanian women equal rights with men.

“Given that Jordan is home to one of the largest populations of Palestinian refugees and that the majority of Jordanian women married to foreign nationals are married to non-citizen Palestinian men who hold various legal statuses in Jordan, local politicians and officials’ chief argument against repealing this discriminatory policy is the claim that it would both undermine the effort to secure Palestinian statehood and alter Jordan’s demographic balance,” it said.

Human Rights Watch rejected this justification as discriminatory, saying it was not applied to Jordanian men who chose to marry foreign nationals, most of whom are also married to Palestinians.

“While I am totally for ending the discriminatory policy against Jordanian women, the government should immediately remove all barrier to their children,” Salma Nims, secretary-general of the Jordanian National Commission for Women, whose organization was set to host the unveiling of the report, told Arab News.

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