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Unregistered marriage seen as taboo, numbers unclear

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(Photo: Envato Elements)
AMMAN — Unregistered marriage is seen a taboo in Jordan’s conservative Muslim society because the union is neither religiously legitimized, nor acceptable.اضافة اعلان

Widely known in Arabic as zawaj Orfi, the marriage is a contract between two people who wish to tie the knot. It is not supervised by a religious authority, and remains as an unlicensed agreement between couples, thus is not recognized officially in the Kingdom.

It is popular in Egypt and some other Arab countries, but is kept under a tight lid in Jordan.

The Department of the Chief Justice said some 1,406 people requested proof of marriage documents in 2021, but that this did not constitute an official tally of the number of marriages last year.

Attorney Areej Al-Ramahi said the figure “does not include the number of unregistered marriages” but may comprise “marriages which took place outside the country, and must be registered under Jordanian law to become recognized and official.”

“Unregistered marriage is considered a crime, and is not legally recognized”, she said.

She noted that penalties imposed on those caught involved in such union are fined JD200, including witnesses of the association. Under the Personal Status Law, the penalty could also include a prison term of six months to one year.

She stressed that “the issues that follow the unregistered marriage are innumerable, especially since the law and society do not consider it a real marriage.”

“There is no way to know the exact number of unregistered marriages in Jordan,” Ramahi said. “Although it is not considered a widespread social phenomenon, there are certainly some cases.”

Sociologist Hussein Alkhozahe, described unregistered marriage “as a secret marriage, because it is neither socially, nor religiously recognized.”

“The main reason for resorting to this kind of union could be related to financial reasons, given that such marriage is mostly found among young people and university students,” Khuzai told Jordan News.

“When the minimum wage is JD260, which is less than one month’s apartment rent, how can a new graduate, or even a worker afford the other marriage expenses?” he asked.

He said there could have been more than 500 unregistered marriages in Jordan last year, noting that the figure “is small.” But he noted that meant there are such unions taking place in the country, and “this is a serious matter that must be taken into account and discussed publicly to prevent it from increasing in the coming years.”

“The only side who is negatively affected by the unregistered marriage is the woman,” he said. “It contributes to a social ostracism of the woman, and will also have a considerable psychological impact on her.” 

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