Arabs make up the vast majority (98%) of the population of Jordan. The official religion is Islam, and the majority are Sunni Muslims (92%). The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a parliamentary monarchy. The King is the head of the three authorities (executive, national assembly, and judiciary), he also serves as the supreme commander of the armed forces.
Legislative powers fall within the authority of the national assembly (The Senate and the Chamber of Deputies), in cooperation with the executive authority. Courts are divided into three categories: civil courts, religious courts, and special courts. Religious courts are of two kinds: The Sharia Courts and the Tribunals of Other Religious Communities. Sharia Courts have executive jurisdiction in respect of matters of personal status of Muslims, cases concerning blood money (Diya), and matters pertaining to Islamic endowments (waqfs). Sharia Courts apply provisions of the Sharia law (Article 106 of the Constitution).
Information About Muslim Family Laws And/or Practices In Jordan
Laws Governing Muslim Marriage
- Personal Status Act 2019 (JPSA)
- Personal Status Execution Act Number 10, 2013 – قانون التنفيذ الشرعي
تعليمات منح الإذن بالزواج لمن أكمل الخامسة عشرة سنة شمسية من عمره ولم يكمل الثامنة عشرة
- Instructions for granting permission to marry a person who has completed fifteen years of age and has not completed eighteen years of age – Civil Status Law Number 36, 2010
Equality in Marriage
- Men and women are not treated equally in the marriage, take for instance, men can enter a polygamous marriage while women cannot.
- Dowry is paid by men not women.
- In the case of divorce, a man can divorce his wife by his single will, while the woman can only divorce herself out of the marriage if the marriage contract allows for this by mutual agreement, or she can abandon her financial rights (iftida’).
Minimum Age of Marriage
- The minimum legal age for marriage is 18 for females and males as per Article 10 of the JPSA. However, Article 10 (b) also provides that a judge may permit girls and boys below 18 to marry if it is deemed to be in their best interest.
- Article 10 does not permit a judge to authorize the marriage of girls and boys below 15. Nevertheless, in extremely rare cases (such as pregnancy), a judge may authorize the marriage of girls below 15, in which case, the registration of the marriage is put on hold until she as turned 15.
- When considering whether to allow a girl under the age of 18 to get married, the judge has to consider whether: (i) the groom has the financial capacity to support his bride and pay the dower (mahr); and (ii) the marriage has recognized benefits
Divorce Provisions for Women and Men
- A husband may delegate his unilateral right to divorce to his wife (isma) through a stipulation in the marriage contract, thus permitting her to pronounce talāq upon herself (talāq -i-tafwid). However, the wife needs to appear before a court to exercise this right.
- Article 155 of the JPSA provides that in the case of divorce without legitimate cause, a judge may grant compensation to the wife. The amount of compensation may be between one to three year’s maintenance, taking into account the husband’s financial means and may be paid as a lump sum or in instalments.
Positive Feature(s) Under Muslim Family Law
- Women’s financial status is independent from her husband’s.
- Recently, in a Personal Status Law was amended in 2019 where DNA tests are allowed as evidence in family courts to prove fatherhood.
- Personal Status Law specified that 18 is the legal age of marriage as per international standards. However, the law in Jordan still allows for exceptional cases where girls between the ages of 15 and 18 may get married.
- Custody for children in Personal Status Act 2019 has been increased to 15 years old for children, with possibility of extension until the child completes his or her studies.
- Jordan‘s parliament added the words “Jordanian women” to its constitution in January 2022, when previously, the Jordanian constitution referred to its citizens exclusively in the male plural, but now the constitution will refer to “Jordanian men” and “Jordanian women” separately.
Administration Of And Access To Justice On Marriage And Family Matters
- The justice system in Jordan is based on 2 levels of courts (first instance and Court of Appeal) and a Cassation court to supervise the application of law in the courts.
- Family cases are adjudicated in a sperate Sharia court. These courts are at 2 levels, first instance and appeals, with a Sharia cassation court to supervise the application of law in the courts.
- The JPSA provides for three different mechanisms for divorce: (i) unilateral repudiation by the husband (talāq); (ii) judicial divorce; and (iii) redemptive divorce (khul’ or iftida). The marriage may also be annulled.
Constitutional Provisions and National Legislation
- Article 6 of the 1952 Constitution guarantees equality before the law. The Constitution does not include an article addressing gender discrimination or prohibiting discrimination against women. However, in January 2022 the Parliament passed two relevant amendments to the constitution:
- First, adding para 7 to Article 6 of the Constitution, stating: The state shall guarantee the empowerment and support of women, through enabling them to take an effective role in building society, in a way that guarantees equal opportunities based on justice, fairness and protecting women from all forms of violence and discrimination.
- Second, the words “Jordanian women” were added to its constitution in January 2022, when previously, the Jordanian constitution referred to its citizens exclusively in the male plural, but now the constitution will refer to “Jordanian men” and “Jordanian women” separately. These amendments are subject to Royal Decree, in order to become binding.
- The Constitution provides that “every worker shall receive wages commensurate with the quantity and quality of his work.” Further, the Labour Code 1996 and its amendments guarantee in Article 2; equal pay for equal value without discrimination based on sex.
- Equality of all citizens was affirmed by the 1991 National Charter in the following Chapters:
- Chapter 1(8): Jordanian men and women are equal under the law. There shall be no distinction between them in rights and obligations regardless of difference in race, language, or religion.
- Chapter 5(6). Women are men’s partners and equals in contributing to the growth and development of Jordanian society. This requires an affirmation of women’s constitutional and legal rights to equality, guidance, training, and employment as a means of enabling them to play their proper role in the growth and development of society.
- Sharia Courts have executive jurisdiction in respect of matters of personal status of Muslims, cases concerning blood money (Diya), and matters pertaining to Islamic endowments (waqfs) (Article 105 of the Constitution). Sharia Courts apply provisions of the Sharia law (Article 106 of the Constitution).
Other National Laws
- Jordan has not adopted specific legislation to criminalise acts of domestic violence. Jordan’s Family Protection Act No. 6 (Law on Protection from Domestic Violence) of 2017. It does not mention the issue of gender-based violence (GBV). It may be considered as a protection law as it lays out guidelines for procedures in domestic violence cases for medical practitioners and police officers. It also includes penalties for perpetrators, including detention of perpetrators for up to 24 hours, and protection orders, but does not criminalise domestic violence.
- However, this law contains some important shortcomings, including the failure to criminalize forms of violence such as restrictions on women’s freedom and choices, economic abuse, psychological violence, and marital rape.
- The Penal Code contains some general prohibitions that may be applicable to domestic violence. For instance, the Penal Code criminalises verbal and physical assault upon another person and prescribes prison penalties. These cover domestic violence, with the exception of the discipline of children in a manner that does not harm them, provided it is consistent with the “prevalent tradition.”
- JNCW put out a list of demands including: the amendment of Article 62 (2(a)) of the Penal Code which allows for disciplinary hitting of children. The Penal Code does not specifically criminalise marital rape or sexual harassment. However, in 2017, all acts of sexual harassment have been criminalised but are now referred to as ‘indecent acts’ rather than sexual harassment (Article 306 of the Penal Code). JNCW’s list of demands call for a definition of sexual harassment in the Penal Code and Labour code.
- The Penal Code used to exempt suspected rapists who marry their girl victims aged 15-18 from punishment pursuant to Article 308, however in a major victory for feminist groups and others, in April 2017, the Jordanian government announced the revocation of Article 308, where it was amended and then abolished by parliament.
- The Personal Status Law states that a wife loses her alimony if she works outside of the home without the consent of her husband. The husband can revoke his consent for his wife’s work only with legitimate reason and without causing the wife any harm. (Article 61 of the Personal Status Law). A woman can only object to her husband’s decision if she has requested a condition in the marriage contract that her husband cannot prevent her from working.
- Although assault and abuse are accepted as grounds for divorce, it is often very difficult for a woman to prove her case because Sharia Courts require the testimony of two male witnesses in these circumstances. This discourages many women from initiating legal procedures.
Regional or International Human Rights Principles
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
- Jordan Ratified CEDAW in 1992 and made reservations: Jordan does not consider itself bound by the following provisions:
- Article 9, paragraph 2, relating to equal rights regarding nationality of children.
- Article 16, paragraph (1) (c), relating to equal rights and responsibilities during marriage the rights arising upon the dissolution of marriage regarding maintenance and compensation.
- Article 16, paragraph (1) (d), relating to equal rights and responsibilities as parents.
- Article 16, paragraph (1)(g), relating to equal personal rights, including the right to choose a family name, a profession, and an occupation.
- Jordan lifted its reservation to CEDAW Article 15(4) in 2009, which relates to equal rights in movement of persons and the freedom to choose residence and domicile.
- The last CEDAW review took place in 2015.
- Links to CEDAW reports that refer to Muslim family laws and practices
- Jordan’s Sixth National Periodic Reporthttps://jordan.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2016/6/jordan-sixth-national-periodic-report-to-the-cedaw-committee
- CEDAW and Muslim Family Laws: In Search of Common Groundhttps://gsdrc.org/document-library/cedaw-and-muslim-family-laws-in-search-of-common-ground/
- Links to Concluding Observations That Refer to Reform of Muslim Family Laws and Practices
- Sixth Periodic National Report – JNCW Observationshttps://jordan.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2016/6/jordan-sixth-national-periodic-report-to-the-cedaw-committee
- Link to Musawah’s CEDAW reports on Jordan
- Musawah’s Thematic Report on Algeria and Jordan (2012)https://campaignforjustice.musawah.org/resources/musawah-thematic-report-on-algeria-jordan-2012/
Any other relevant regional or international treaty or convention signed by Jordan
- Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), ratified in 1991. Reservation: The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan expresses its reservation and does not consider itself bound by Articles 14, 20 and 21 of the Convention, which grant the child the right to freedom of choice of religion and concern the question of adoption, since they are at variance with the precepts of the tolerant Islamic Shariah.
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified in 2008.
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified in 1975.
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratified 1975.
- Various ILO Conventions such as C100 and C111.
- Jordan’s Performance on the Women, Peace and Security Index: https://giwps.georgetown.edu/country/jordan/
- Universal Periodic Review: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/JOindex.aspx
- Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Dashboard Page: https://indicators.ohchr.org
- Global Gender Gap Report 2021, World Economic Forum: https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2021.pdf
Key Resources About Muslim Family Law
- By local researchers, activists and civil society groups
- The Jordanian National Commission for Womenhttps://www.women.jo/ar
- Paper on Evaluation of Alternatives and Solutions for Marriage of Minors in Jordan (in Arabic)https://www.women.jo/sites/default/files/2020-06/ورقة%20تقييم%20البدائل%20و%20الحلول%20لزواج%20القُصر%20في%20الاردن.pdf
- By government agencies/committees
- The Official Site of the Jordanian e-Governmenthttps://portal.jordan.gov.jo/wps/portal/Home/AboutJordan?lang=en&isFromLangChange=yes
- The Parliamenthttp://parliament.jo/en
- The Higher Population Councilhttps://www.hpc.org.jo/en/content/إطلاق-خطة-العمل-الوطنية-لتنفيذ-توصيات-دراسة-زواج-القاصرات-للحد-من-زواج-من-هم-دون-سن-18-سنة
- By international bodies
- Jordan, Gender Justice & The Law: Assessment of laws affecting gender equality and protection against gender-based violencehttps://www.undp.org/content/dam/rbas/doc/Gender%20Justice/English/Full%20reports/Jordan%20Country%20Assessment%20-%20English.pdf
- UN Women Jordan: Women and Violent Radicalization in Jordanhttps://jordan.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2016/7/un-women-and-jncw—women-and-violent-radicalization-in-jordan
National Groups and Campaigns Working on Muslim Family Law
- National Campaigns
- The Jordanian National Commission for Women leads annual campaign: 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violencehttps://jordan.un.org/en/160605-launching-2021-16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence-campaign
- National Council for Family Affairshttps://ncfa.org.jo
- National Groups
- The Jordanian National Commission for Womenhttps://www.women.jo/ar
- Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Developmenthttps://ardd-jo.org
- Mizan Law Group for Human Rightshttp://www.mizangroup.jo/ar/Home
- Sisterhood is Global Institute Jordanhttps://www.sigi-jordan.org
- Justice Centre for Legal Aidhttps://www.jcla-org.com/en
- National Council for Family Affairshttps://ncfa.org.jo
Family Rights Law
Family Rights Law Number 13
Family Rights Law Number 92
Personal Status Law Number 61
Personal Status Law Number 82
Amended on 31st December 2001, according to which the minimum age of marriage was increased to 18 years old for both men and women.
Personal Status Law Number 36
Women were given the rights to divorce themselves out of the marriage if the marriage contract allows for this by mutual agreement, or she can abandon her financial rights (iftida’)
Personal Status Law Number 15
This country page was prepared by Amal Haddadin, Legal Consultant for The Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW), as a collaboration under the Campaign for Justice in Muslim Family Laws