Lawmakers conflicted over adding ‘women’ to Article 6

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AMMAN — Article 6 of the Jordanian constitution states that “Jordanians shall be equal before the law. There shall be no discrimination between them as regards to their rights and duties on grounds of race, language or religion.”  اضافة اعلان

The absence of a gender-sensitive term in the text of Article 6 has for long stirred lengthy discussions and differing views as to the need to add “Urduniat” or Jordanian women to the text, with some disputing the need to specify both genders, and others snubbing the motion, eventually leading to a proposed constitutional amendment.

The Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday approved the amendment to add “women” after Jordanians, whereby the Article would read “… Jordanian men and women...” again stirring opposing views regarding the logic of the amendment.

Head of the House Legal Committee Abdul Monem Odat told journalists following the session that “originally the word Jordanians meant everyone, men and women, but this specification aims to emphasise the law’s protection of these social segments and to maximize their active role in building society, as well as their full integration in rights and duties.” 

Deputies were divided about the addition to the text, some out of respect for the Constitution, not wishing to make room for any future changes, others concerned about possible future discriminatory laws, while many were in agreement about the need to specify “women Jordanians” as having equal rights and duties.

Lawmaker Saleh Armouti said that women have for the longest time enjoyed their full rights under the protection of the constitution without the disputed addition. “I think we did not need this new amendment that sparked wide controversy,” he argued, adding that “it was meant as an introduction to tampering with the Civil Status Law” which raises concerns among the majority of deputies.  

Lawmaker Khalil Attieh commended the amendment, saying “it would not cause any harm to public interests.” He negated the notion that it would create discrimination, saying “on the contrary, it specifies the point of equality.”

Mohammad Abu Saileek was one of the lawmakers who opposed amendment, saying the text of the Constitution has existed for so long without opposition, “so why would we have to change it now!”  He raised concerns that the approved modification “would open the way for other bigger changes.”

Lawmaker Aisheh Al-Hassanat said she was for the amendment and commended the timing, which she said “aligns with His Majesty’s vision towards enhancing the role of women. 

Lawmaker Mohammad Hlalat said he was against the principle of amending the Constitution, saying the text, in its old version, “covered all Jordanians, irrespective of gender.”   

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