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‘Comprehensive legal frameworks needed to empower girls’

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Dec 08,2017 - Last updated at Dec 08,2017

HRH Princess Basma speaks during the closing ceremony of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, launched by the Jordanian National Commision for Women, Thursday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

AMMAN — “The protection of the traditional value system of society requires all of us to be objective and impartial to the reality of some customs, traditions and behaviours which carry injustice and social exclusion for the future of young girls,” HRH Princess Basma said on Thursday, stressing that “the practice of underage marriage of girls deserves serious review as an urgent national priority”.

The remarks came during the closing ceremony of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, launched by the Jordanian National Commision for Women (JNCW) on November 25.

The campaign, which has been implemented annually since 2008, was organised in partnership with the Shamaa Network, the UN in Jordan, the EU Delegation to Jordan, the Dutch embassy, Intermon Oxfam and Al Ghad newspaper. 

The princess congratulated all partners for the achievements this year, highlighting “the cooperation between the JNCW, civil society organisations, the Shamaa Network, the women’s movement in particular, and parliamentarians, for the abolishment of Article 308 and the amendment of articles 98 and 285 of the Penal Code”.

“This gives us momentum to intensify our efforts to amend laws that are unjust towards women,” the princess continued, noting that “there is a notable level of awareness and responsible thinking, especially among the young generation who represent the target of the campaign.”

“The cause for concern among civil society and national entities is regarding the regulations for exceptions in cases of marriage of minors,” the princess noted, adding that “the ideal solution would be to cancel the exceptions, but in the meantime, what is urgently required is to put in place well-defined and stringent mechanisms that limit their exploitation in order to avoid the violation of girls’ rights.”

“Comprehensive legal frameworks are needed to empower girls and bring about a change in their role in the family and society, especially with regard to the decision to marry, and to allow them to break free of their obedience to paternal authority,” she continued, stressing that “young girls need to feel that they have the support of their family in making important decisions that are in their best interests, such as the right to marry when it suits them”.

For her part, JNCW Secretary General Salma Nims said that “this campaign is the beginning of a long national effort to find radical solutions to the issue of child marriage,” pointing out the “need to change the societal culture that increases the spread of this phenomenon, taking advantage of the exceptions in the law that should be applied narrowly”.

The ceremony saw the participation of several experts, who shared their input on the issue according their areas of knowledge. 

Judge Ihsan Barakat pointed out that “marriage is one of the most important ties that arise between a male and a female and perhaps one of the most important unions that arise between people both in general and legal terms, “ adding that “one of the most important conditions is for it to be based on the freewill of the executors”.

On the social side, a psychologist present at the ceremony stressed that “when a young girl is forced to get married, she loses her social identity, feeling like she does not have a personality anymore due to her inability to make any decision about herself.”

“The married minors become totally dependent on their husbands, because they lack the experience needed for family management, and they can not join the labour market as a result of dropping out of school,” the psychologist added. 

 

In addition to the experts’ input, the closing ceremony featured several videos representing the reality of underage married girls at the social, psychological and economic levels, and a video presentation summarising the activities of the campaign over the past two weeks.

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IN ANY CIVILIZED WORLD, ALL LEGAL FRAMEWORKS ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF THE SOCIETAL LAWS WHICH ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF INDIVIDUAL LAWS, RULES AND THE CONSTITUTION. IN SHORT, PUBLIC POLOCIES ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF WHO GETS WHAT, HOW AND WHEN. GIVEN THE SAID DOCTRINES, IT IS FAIR TO SAY THAT NO ONE CAN CRAFT ANY COMPREHENSIVE LEGAL FRAMEWORK IN THE ABSENCE OF CONSTITUTIONAL FRAME WORK. IF JORDAN WANTS TO LIFT THE ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS BONDAGES IMPOSED ON THE JORDANIAN WOMEN, CHARITY MUST BEGIN AT HOME WHICH IMPLIES THAT ALL JORDANIANS MUST BE GOVERNED UNDER ONE DOCTRINE OF EQUAL RIGHTS REGARDLESS OF GENDER AND NOT THE USE OF ARTIFICIAL FANCY SHOWS OUTSIDE THE BOUNDRIES OF CONSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK OF GENDER EQUALITY.

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