What is sadness?
a small medium @large
Reading the local paper, minutes ago, I kept wondering what year we're in.
I got the feeling I was reading someone else's news, in an age that's much darker than mine.
Has an alien taken over my entire existence and transplanted me into a time way back when?
This story below does not sound like it's the year 2009, in a country with big progressive claims, expensive campaigns, signatory to some of the most admirable charters of humanity.
What planet are we on, and what year is it exactly?Gender bias by Nermeen MuradJordan Times, 16 February 2009
An influential group of Jordanian women’s associations and civil society organisations are preparing arguments to advocate for the repeal or amendment of a package of 15 laws that are seen as discriminatory against women in the country.
Some have received wide attention, such as the Civil Status Law, which has become synonymous with legislative discrimination against women, in support of their male “guardians”. Among its most perplexing articles, in my opinion, is one which punishes a girl who chooses to stay with her divorced mother instead of moving in with her father when she reaches puberty. The law allows the father to stop his financial support payments for the girl as a form of punishment, but incredibly, does not take a similar action against a boy if he chooses to stay with his divorced mother.
I am unable to delve into the bewildering legislative imbalance and bias against women in Jordan, some of which dates back to the 1950s and has no relevance to the modern Islam practised in Jordan or to the modern-day realities of life and family dynamics. But I want to shed light on one of the laws that is being put forward for amendment and which I believe should be one of the easiest to amend because it clearly has no basis in cultural or religious arguments that are usually used to explain away discriminatory attitudes against women.
Jordan’s Residency and Foreigners’ Affairs Law Number 1973/24, Article 22 B, stipulates that the minister (of interior affairs) can, upon recommendation from the head of department, grant a five-year residency permit to the foreign wife of a Jordanian man but it does not mention any residency facility for the spouse or children of a Jordanian woman. In fact, to the legislator, that category does not even exist.
The foreign husband and children of a Jordanian woman are not granted residency in Jordan. I am not talking about giving citizenship to the foreign family of a Jordanian woman, which would have been her internationally recognised right, I am speaking of a woman’s right to settle with her family in her country of birth and citizenship.
The only way that the foreign husband of a Jordanian woman can reside in the Kingdom is if he applies for residency based on a work contract with an influential national or international company or is considered a wealthy investor. Under that scenario, the foreign husband would renew his residency permit every year, queuing in line at the different departments carrying documentation that attest to his work and financial status, which is the only criterion that the law considers for a non-Jordanian man’s residency in the country.
Every year the “foreigner” would pay his annual residency fees. Every year he would await the authorities’ verdict on his residency permit before he applies for his new driving licence, which he is required to renew annually, and pay the fees for that as well. If the residency issue comes up at a time when he is between jobs, or out of a job, or working with a company that cannot prove that it can’t find a “local” alternative for the post in question, he can be out of the country regardless of the fact that his wife and his family through marriage, and his whole life, are tied to his place of residency.
The foreign children of a Jordanian woman follow the residency status of their father. If a Jordanian woman seeks residency permit for her children, she would have to bring a “hujjet nafaka”, which amounts to proof that they are her financial dependents. The process for receiving this document is demeaning and reminiscent of the dark ages. The woman in question would have to accompany her legal male relatives, i.e., father, brother, uncle, etc., who will attest in a sharia court that the woman’s husband has deserted her and her children and isn’t contributing financially to their upkeep. The court will then grant her permission to keep her children and therefore apply for a residency for them based on their relationship to her.
I wonder what arguments our legislators and executive authority will find to explain why a woman in Jordan is seen only as an extension of a male guardian and not as an independent adult in her own right. Why can’t we recognise, in this time and age, that women are now heads of families, wage earners, independent decision makers, mature and intelligent human beings on a par with the male citizen?
The law is not supposed to be a reflection of bigotry in society, nor is it expected to cater to the opinions of those who live behind the times. The law needs to protect all citizens, equally irrespective of their gender.
I can perhaps accept the fact that there can be discrimination by individuals in a society, but I cannot understand this widespread discrimination by the state against half of its population. We need to see concrete action to end all forms of gender discrimination and recognise that the time to do that is now. Otherwise our claims to modernity, education, common sense and justice would be just meaningless words.
Or am I reading the fiction section of the paper?
Has the columnist taken a shift in her pen towards writing make believe?
Ever imagine how cool it would be if you look onto a roof top around Jordan and instead of seeing ugly clutter and life's leftovers, you find a visual story?
Ever wonder how come roof tops in Beirut or Rome are so pretty and alive, while roof tops around Amman are such an eye sore?
Ever get puzzled over the stories you hear that the good folks at the Greater Amman Municipality give people a hard time when they find them painting on their water tanks and walls?
Ever wonder why Amman is so beige and bland and lacking in flair and color, and why the barren facades don't come to life with images by interesting artists?
Ever notice the ugly, dirty, messy, graying elevator shafts when riding a lovely glass panoramic elevator, and think what's the point?
Aren't you glad that everything can indeed change :) and that there are people who take action and lead that change....
I wonder where she's heading next....
With more people taking action to make a difference, choosing to work through independent collaborations, engaging in their communities, and creating projects with social impact for a better future, there are increasing opportunities to tap into for funding and different types of support.
KAAYIA is one of these sources, and their deadline is coming up on February 22nd. The team at KAAYIA are looking to reward people between 18-29 years who have set up projects that are positive contributions to their society, wherever that may be in the Arab world. They will select 3-5 winners, and offer each $50,000; part of which will be given in cash to sustain the project, and the rest will be used for training to develop leadership and management skills of those selected.