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Abstract

Awareness has been recently increased about gender-based rights and citizenship in Jordan. Many of the issues concerning gender equality arise in the private sphere. Therefore, focusing on the politics of family law is important with regards to women’s rights in particular. Family law is the law related to matters such as polygamy, divorce, inheritance, child custody, guardianship and obedience. The effects are observed especially when Jordanian women try to exercise their granted constitutional political rights. It is the family (personal status) law that runs individual affairs within the private sphere in a patriarchal society where it affects also on exercising others’ rights in the public sphere. It still embodies and reinforces explicit discrimination against women and is enshrined in national legislations. For example, in private sphere family issues, women have to address the religious court, where decisions are based on the judge's perspective. This study is an attempt to analyze the current personal status (family) law. Much of the available local literature in Jordan is purely theoretical, and systematic empirical studies with strong gender analyses are devastatingly absent. Therefore, semi-structured interviews using purposeful sampling that encompassed a range of elite actors involved in these issues–from academics to politicians and civil society activists – were conducted. A reputation-based snowball sampling method, a technique for finding research subjects by referral from one subject to the next, was used. Interviews of elite actors were conducted to collect the qualitative primary data, while the secondary sources represent document analyses, such as national and international documents like the Jordanian Constitution, agreements, laws, regulations, articles and books. This study concluded that Jordan has to establish both a public sphere and private sphere (e.g. the family domain, where women are primarily located) as an ideology in the corresponding laws and Constitution, because the modernization or liberalization of laws is an essential process for empowering individuals, particularly women in Jordan. This means that the laws and basic human rights need to be taken seriously and reconstructed for each development or evolution era for the citizens' benefit rather than just as a display for the international community showing fake modernity.

Note on the Author

Rania F. Al-Rabadi completed her Ph.D. in Gender Studies at the Free University of Berlin in 2012 and M.Sc. in State Management and Humanitarian Affairs at the University of Rome – La-Sapienza in 2007. She has been involved in research studies regarding women‘s empowerment and legal status within FU Berlin and through the German Association for International Cooperation (GIZ). Dr. Al-Rabadi is also a lecturer at the Center for Women's Studies at The University of Jordan and has a well-known, internationally recognized book published in 2012 within Gender Studies, Legal Reform in Women's Rights: A Comparative Study between Jordan and Bahrain Concerning Citizenship and Political Participation.

Anas N. Al-Rabadi is currently a Professor in the School of Engineering at The University of Jordan. Prof. Al-Rabadi received his Ph.D. from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Portland State University in 2002, received his M.Sc. from the ECE Department at Portland State University in 1998, and was a Research Faculty at the Office of Graduate Studies and Research (OGSR) at Portland State University. Currently, Prof. Anas N. Al-Rabadi is the author of more than 130 international scholarly articles in international books, book chapters, journals and conferences, in addition to a U.S. patent registered in 2009 in the USPTO. In addition to several technical Electrical and Computer Engineering fields, his current research includes gender in teaching and gender studies.

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