How "progressive" is Jordan now? New court ruling on veiled women may suggest otherwise....

Published March 23rd, 2014 - 10:46 GMT

The Jordanian Women’s Union, along with lawyers across the Hashemite Kingdom, expressed shock last week after a ruling discriminating against women who do not wear the Islamic hijab was issued by the Amman Sharia Court of Appeal, according to Al Medanah News.

The court announced late last week that it agreed with one lawyer's statement - based on a fatwa - that says a woman who does not cover up or wear a hijab is considered a “slut” and shouldn't be allowed to testify in court.

In response, The Women’s Union released a statement published on Amman net that describes the court’s decision as discrimination against women and a violation of the Jordanian Constitution, which considers all Jordanian men and women as equals.

“The Amman Sharia Court of Appeal has accepted the lawyer’s objection to a female witness from testifying for not wearing the hijab, which the court said would affect the fairness and honesty in her testimony from 3/2/2014. 

According to the fatwa, which the court’s decision was based on, women who aren’t covered up are “sluts,” and that gives those women a bad name. Furthermore, the court was unable to support this fatwa apart from with something written in the introduction of a book by Egyptian Islamic Theologian Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi.

Seeing as this decision violates the provisions of the Jordanian Constitution which calls for equality between all Jordanians, and which protects their personal freedoms, we are demanding all the concerned parties to reconsider the mentioned decision above. Meanwhile we stress the following:

1. Women’s attire is a personal choice and no one should challenge it as long as they’re not breaking the law and stepping out of line. An attack on those freedoms is considered a crime and explicitly violates Article VII of the Constitution.

2. The court’s decision is an attack on women and their honesty and dignity, especially that the decision was made by the highest court in the religious judiciary.

3. The Personal status Law is unconstitutional as it affects the principle of equality as between men and women.

4. Making room for jurisprudence in courts is dangerous, and gives the judge the opportunity to rule according to his own beliefs.

The Women’s Union therefore demands the following:

1. Going back on the court’s decision to consider those who aren’t wearing the hijab as not fit or honest to testify in court.

2. We stress the importance of revising the Personal Status Law as it still discriminates against women."

Lawyers throughout the Kingdom have also expressed opposition to the ruling publicly, with some calling for wider scale protests and demonstrations. 


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