October 3 2022 2:21 PM E-paper Subscribe Sign in My Account Sign out

Women’s voices lost in ‘tribal reconciliation’ process

In some tribal reconciliation cases, the outcome of a case may depend on the reactions of the victim’s family members. Women whose family members are killed may face pressure from the killer’s family
In some tribal reconciliation cases, the outcome of a case may depend on the reactions of the victim’s family members. Women whose family members are killed may face pressure from the killer’s family members to publicly forgive the assailant and thus lessen his sentence. (Photo: Shutterstock)
AMMAN — Jordan’s ‘tribal reconciliation’ process offers mechanisms for justice, forgiveness, and preventing violence based on revenge. But for women caught in the middle of this process, social pressures sometimes interrupt the path towards justice. اضافة اعلان

In some tribal reconciliation cases, the outcome of a case may depend on the reactions of the victim’s family members. Women whose family members are killed may face pressure from the killer’s family members to publicly forgive the assailant and thus lessen his sentence. 

A well-known tribal sheikh speaking on the condition of anonymity agreed that women are sometimes excluded — but explained this exclusion with his own rationale. “I cannot deny that in some cases women are excluded, their voices are not heard, and their opinions do not matter to some people,” he said. 

“Maybe women are excluded because they are emotional more than men — who depend mostly on their minds, not on their emotions,” he said.

The sheikh emphasized the importance of pardoning. “Forgiveness is a good thing,” he said. “Other than that, it is better to forgive than to get into retaliation matters — If we get through such matters we will never get out of them and we will also be teaching new generations hatred and antipathy.”

Lubna Akroush, a sociologist, told Jordan News that “women have nothing to do regarding tribal reconciliation — their voices are not heard and their rights are lost.” 

“Even if the victim is her son, husband, or brother, the woman can do nothing. This happens a lot in Jordan, and we always hear of women who waive their rights because no one is there to hear them or support them.” 

“Our society is happy that some women are weak; the society likes to see them remain as this. They never think or want to change them or empower them,” Akroush said. “I honestly believe that tribal reconciliation should be completely eliminated.”

Women face more than just pressure to forgive. “I regularly hear of women who are threatened with death from their family members if they refuse to forgive the criminal,” said Adwan Mamoun, an attorney who works on tribal reconciliation cases.

“Those women go to the courts and they are already afraid of their families so they stand in front of the judges and without thinking, they just accept and forgive and waive their rights.”

“This is not their fault. It is the fault of their society. Despite being educated, some people still underestimate women.”

Adwan recalled a story of his relative, who refused to forgive her husband’s killer while all of her family members wanted her to say yes and forgive. 

“Her husband was killed years ago, and she was asked to forgive the criminal but she could not. That is normal, because she still cannot believe that he died. She used to love him, and now she is left alone with her young kids — how can she forgive the criminal?” 

“Because of her refusal to forgive the criminal, he was sentenced to hard labour. That is the right sentence he deserves and nothing less,” he said.

Another lawyer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Jordan News that “in my entire life as an attorney, I have never heard that women have a role in the tribal reconciliation.” 

“It is always the men who play the major roles in such matters, and especially the eldest and most respected men in each family — the family of the victim and the family of the criminal,” the attorney added.

“The judges, from their sides, listen to the women’s testimony and take it into consideration, but it needs enough courage from the women themselves to refuse to forgive and say that in front of the judges.”

“They do not, and I believe that they will never do (that). We still live in a society in which male mentality controls us.”

Adwan also urged women to stand up on an individual, not systematic, level. “I ask women to be stronger, they need to raise their voice and say no. Laws stand with them, they should not waive their rights,” he said. 

“Laws do not differentiate between women nor men, all of them are equal when it comes to law,” the lawyer added. 

Adwan expressed his astonishment about the pressure on women to forgive. “How can a woman forgive the criminal that killed her son, husband, or brother and act as if nothing had happened?”

“Women should be wise enough to know that laws stand with them,” he went on. If they do not want to forgive, they can easily go to the courts and say this out loud.”

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