Photo by Al Ghad.
A media battle is being waged between Jordanian women’s organizations and islamist forces over the intention of the government to drop some of its reservation to the global agreement on women’s rights CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women). Both Jordan’s largest islamist party, the islamic action front, and dozens of sharia law scholars have urged the government NOT to drop the reservations. The IAF, went as far as calling the whole CEDAW agreement ‘dangerous’, as it supposedly contradicts islamic teachings and will “destroy” Jordanian families. They even want Jordan to withdraw from the agreement!
The women’s organizations, on the other hand, want the government to go ahead with the dropping of reservations to the agreement. Jordan is already a signatory of CEDAW since 1992, but retained some reservations to some clauses.
So what are those ‘dangerous’ rights that the Islamist want to protect us from?
As far as i understood it’s all about:
The right of a woman to choose a husband on her own. The islamists insist that the father’s/ or male care-taker’s approval must be obtained, even by an adult woman.
The right to choose a place of residence and travel. I guess the islamist want the father/husband/brother to control this too.
And, the most strange objection: the right of a Jordanian woman to give her nationality to her children. Now, the jordanian law does not permit that, because of certain political considerations. The law is clearly unconstitutional, and women have fought it in the past. But the islamists want to go a step further, making this a religious issue. Since when does islam have anything to do with the modern concept of state nationality?
All of this shows that the forces of political islam and conservative scholars really have a big problem with women’s rights and, by extension, human rights. They stick to a regressive understanding of islam, which has more to do with Arab tribal norms than with the universal values of human freedom.
Maybe they imagine that granting a woman the right to freely choose a husband, choose a place to live and give her children her nationality, will result in thousands of women running naked on the streets, and ultimately, the moral breakdown of society.
Instead of being driven by fear and conservative male-dominated thinking, wouldn’t it be better if the islamists started thinking about today’s realities and adopt a more progressive view of islam. Shouldn’t they consider that whatever ‘negative’ effect of giving women their full human rights are far less damaging than the injustice resulting from women being oppressed by a male-dominated society. How many stories have you heard of women being cheated out of their inheritance by greedy brothers? How many girls have been forbidden to marry by over possessive fathers?
Well, until that happens, men and women concerned with human rights should speak out, and not get shut up by people who wave the ‘un-islamic’ card in our faces at every occasion.