“(My mother is) Jordanian & her nationality is my right.”

Jordan: Give women equal citizenship rights to men

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Date: 
5 Nov 2012
MISE A JOUR: 

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UPDATE 12 NOVEMBER 2014: Progress! Equality Now and our partners, the Arab Women Organization and the “My mother is Jordanian and her nationality is a right for me” campaign, welcome the Jordanian government’s 9 November announcement granting certain rights to children of Jordanian women married to non-nationals. Endorsed by the Prime Minister, these children will now be granted special identity cards, free access to public schools and health care, access to jobs, residence permits, driver’s licenses and permission to own property and invest in business, among other rights. Such access would considerably improve the lives of the affected children. We urge the government to implement these changes as soon as possible within the announced six month time period.

While applauding this step, Equality Now and our partners continue to call on  the government to remove the discrimination from the nationality law itself so that women will have the same nationality rights as men. This will ensure that they and their families can enjoy the same access and benefits and have the ability to contribute as full members of society.


UPDATE 27 JANUARY 2014: On 12 January 2014, the Government of Jordan gave approval to grant the foreign spouses of Jordanian women and their children certain civil rights, including residence permits and improved access to state medical care facilities, education and work in the private sector. These rights will considerably alleviate the hardships of the affected families, and we urge the government to implement them without delay.

However, as sex discrimination still remains in the Jordanian nationality law, including not giving women the right to pass on their citizenship to their children and foreign spouses, Equality Now continues to call on the government to amend its nationality law to remove such discrimination.

Thank you for your support, and please continue to watch this space for further updates and calls for action.

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Shireen lives in Jordan with her non-Jordanian husband and their children. Due to the country’s sex discriminatory nationality law, Shireen’s passport is stamped with the notice: “Children are not permitted to be included in the mother’s passport due to the husband’s different nationality.” She has a troubled marriage and lives in constant fear that her husband will take her children away to his home country, which he can do since their children are only registered on his passport. If he leaves the country with them, her only recourse would be to follow him and apply in his country of origin for access or custody of her children. Even then, she may have difficulty bringing them back to Jordan since they are not listed on her passport. Due to her own experiences, Shireen does not want her daughter to marry a non-national. She thinks that marrying her off at an early age to a Jordanian man would give her daughter the sense of security and protection that she herself does not have.

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LAYLYA's non-national husband moved from job to job, trying to find a decent living. Work permits cost over 400 Jordanian Dinars (about US$600) and employers often refuse to give foreign-born men proper jobs since they can hire them unofficially for jobs with lower wages and longer hours. Anxious about his inability to provide a decent life for his family, Layla’s husband suffered a heart attack. He moved back to his home country in order to regain some dignity.

Three of Layla’s Jordanian-born sons are working illegally, in constant fear of the police; her 17-year old daughter cannot afford to go to university because she would be charged higher “foreigner” fees despite having been born in Jordan to a Jordanian mother. She is not eligible to apply for government scholarships. If these children had been born to a Jordanian father, they would be considered Jordanian and not have to face any of these difficulties.


While MASHA'EL has birth certificates for her four children proving they were born in Jordan to a Jordanian mother, their passports show them as nationals of a different country, which makes her feel very vulnerable and fear their possible deportation. Her husband works in the beauty salon she owns, but is still required to renew his work permit annually--something he has not done this year because of the cost.

He fears deportation if the police discover this, but the family’s priority is to pay the elevated university “foreigner” fees for their eldest son so that he can get a decent education. Unable to cope with the restrictions and hardships associated with being a foreigner in his own country, their son tried to set himself on fire last year.

Layla, Masha’el (see sidebars) and Shireen’s stories illustrate just some of the hardships caused by the inability of Jordanian women to pass on their nationality. Additional restrictions, such as where children from these unions can work or study, in access to government hospitals and the need to obtain Ministry of the Interior approval to marry, are all contributing to the increased vulnerability of these women and their families.

Under Jordanian Law No.6 of 1954 on Nationality, last amended in 1987, with few exceptions, women cannot transmit their nationality to their children or upon marriage to their husbands. To combat this law which does not apply equivalently to Jordanian men and which is negatively impacting the security and livelihood of Jordanian women married to non-nationals, Nima Habashna founded the campaign “My mother is Jordanian, and her nationality is a right for me.” Led by Jordanian women married to non-Jordanians and with the support of the Arab Women Organization, Nima is leading a series of sit-ins in front of the Ministry of the Interior and other government offices calling on the government to amend the nationality law in line with Jordan’s international legal obligations.

Though Jordanian law allows for the possibility of naturalization of a non-national husband and their children, it is at the discretion of the Council of Ministers and applications must be obtained and filed in person with the Ministry of the Interior based in the capital. Nima, for example, submitted an application as soon as she was able several years ago. However, despite repeated attempts to obtain a decision, and even with the assistance of a Parliamentarian who submitted papers on her behalf, she has never directly received an official written response. Finally, on 25 April 2012, the Parliamentarian received an official letter stating that Nima’s application was rejected without giving any explanation as to why. Other women in the campaign have also tried to have their children and spouses naturalized but are unable to even obtain an application from the Ministry.

The Arab Women Organization brought the issue to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in February 2012. In its concluding observations in July 2012, CEDAW urged the government “to enable Jordanian women to pass their nationality to their foreign spouses and their mutual children” within the context of nationality rights. Several other UN treaties and treaty monitoring bodies including the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child, have also addressed this issue. All of these committees in their most recent review of Jordan’s implementation of their respective human rights treaties have urged Jordan to amend its nationality law.

When the Ministry agrees to proceed with an application, the Council of Ministries has the authority to either approve or reject it. No woman in the campaign has even managed to have her petition considered. The women have also tried sending letters to the King of Jordan with no success. Although the Jordanian parliament has been dissolved and elections for the new parliament aren’t likely to be held until the end of 2012, a Cabinet is still operating. This Cabinet has the power to pass a temporary law amending the Nationality Law and present it to parliament for approval when it reconvenes.

Comment agir: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Call on Jordanian government officials to amend the Nationality Law to give Jordanian women the equal right to pass their nationality on to their children and spouses without delay.

King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein
King’s Office
11100 Amman, JORDAN
Tel: +9626 4637341
Fax: +9626 4627421/2

Prime Minister Abdallah El Nsour

11180 Amman, JORDAN

Tel: +9626 4641211

Fax: +9626 4642520

Email: info@pm.gov.jo

Call on the Minister of the Interior to accelerate governmental efforts to facilitate provision of residence permits to foreign spouses of Jordanian women until the Nationality Law is amended.

Mr. Hussein Al-Majali
Minister of the Interior
P.O. Box 100, 11181 Amman
Ibin Zawdun St., Building #9, JORDAN
Tel.: +9626 5691141/Fax: +9626 5691141
Email: info@moi.gov.jo

Lettres: 

TO THE KING & PRIME MINISTER:

Dear King, Prime Minister:

I support the men and women in Jordan advocating for women to be given equal citizenship rights with men, in particular the “My mother is Jordanian, and her nationality is a right for me” campaign organized by Nima Habashna and the Arab Women Organization. Therefore I welcome the Jordanian government’s 9 November announcement granting certain rights to children of Jordanian women married to non-nationals. This move will considerably improve the lives of these children and I ask the government to implement them as soon as possible within the announced six months period.

Under Jordanian Law No.6 of 1954 on Nationality, with few exceptions, women cannot transmit their nationality to their non-Jordanian husbands or to the children they have together, which is negatively impacting their lives. Several United Nations committees have urged your government to amend its nationality law to remove the sex discrimination in it. Though Jordanian law allows for the possibility of naturalization of a non-national husband and their children, it is at the discretion of the Council of Ministers and applications must be obtained and filed in person with the Ministry of the Interior in Amman. Not one woman in the campaign has even managed to have her petition considered and sometimes women are unable even to obtain an application.

Building on the progress towards easing hardships for children of affected families, I urge you to amend the Nationality Law and to facilitate residence permits for foreign spouses of Jordanian women without delay, so that women and their families can enjoy equal access and benefits and have the ability to contribute as full members in society.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,


TO THE MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR:

Dear Minister,

I support the men and women in Jordan who are advocating for the amendment of Jordanian Law No. 6 of 1954 to give Jordanian women married to non-nationals the equal right with Jordanian men to pass their citizenship on to their spouses and children – in particular the “My mother is Jordanian, and her nationality is a right for me” campaign organized by Nima Habashna and the Arab Women Organization. Therefore, I welcome the Jordanian government’s 9 November announcement granting certain rights to children from these families which will considerably improve their lives. I urge the government to implement them as soon as possible within the announced six months period. Until the Nationality Law is amended, please also accelerate governmental efforts to provide residence permits to foreign spouses of Jordanian women to ease the stress and difficulties caused by an insecure status.

Some of the hardships caused by the inability of Jordanian women to pass on their nationality include the fear that their children will be taken from the country by the non-Jordanian husband, presenting huge legal difficulties for their mothers to bring them back or even have access to them, and the exploitation by employers of foreign-born husbands. Though Jordanian law allows for the possibility of naturalization of a non-national husband and their children, this is only at the discretion of the Council of Ministers and applications must be obtained and filed in person with your Ministry in Amman. No woman in the “My mother is Jordanian, and her nationality is a right for me” campaign has yet managed to have her petition considered. Other women in the campaign have also tried to have their children and spouses naturalized but are unable to even obtain an application from your Ministry.

Building on the progress towards easing hardships for children of affected families, I urge you to please support the comprehensive amendment of the Nationality Law as soon as possible.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,