Amman (Agenzia Fides) - In Jordan, while Parliament is discussing the change in laws governing personal status, the Churches have also embarked on a path of revision of the canonical-ecclesiastical rules that determine the personal status of Christians of the Hashemite Kingdom, with the intention of eliminating provisions that penalize women in matters of marriage and hereditary issues.
In Jordan, the temporary personal status law, enacted in 2010, governs issues such as marriage, divorce and inheritance, and is largely based on the principles of Islamic law. This legislation does not apply to citizens of Christian faith, for whom matters relating to personal status are subject to the rules defined by the respective ecclesiastical authorities. These provisions - this is the prevailing orientation within the various Churches present in Jordan - must be renewed, as the current social framework no longer corresponds to the one in which they were outlined, in the Ottoman era. In particular, the rules relating to matrimonial and inherited issues that continue to determine situations and practices characterized by a certain disparity to the detriment of women will have to be amended. For example, there are rules that penalize unmarried and childless women in the distribution of inheritance shares.
The Greek Orthodox archimandrite Christoforos Atallah report Jordanian media - announced that the Greek Orthodox Church has established a committee of jurists called to offer proposals to renew ecclesiastical rules concerning the personal status of Christians of Orthodox confession. The new rules, including those relating to matrimonial law, will be examined within the next few months by the Synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. A similar process of revision was also initiated by the Latin Catholic Church, with the contribution of Father Shawqi Baterian, canonist and ecclesiastical court judge in Jerusalem and Amman. The new laws on personal status - explained Father Baterian - will aim to ensure the full equality of rights between men and women within Catholic families of Latin rite.
All the Churches present in Jordan have already defined the 18-year threshold as the minimum age for marriage, except for exceptions that must always be authorized by the bishop. Precisely the definitive raising of the minimum age to marry is at the center of the parliamentary debate regarding the revision of the laws on personal status currently in force for Islamic citizens, who represent 92 percent of the Jordanian population.
The current personal status law states that the minimum age for marriage is 18, but judges of Islamic courts can authorize marriages of children between the ages of 15 and 18 if "marriage is necessary and in [their] interest". Currently, the political and social sectors opposed to the phenomenon of so-called "child brides" aim to have at least the age of 16 recognized as the minimum threshold for contracting marriages.
The vast majority of children married in Jordan are girls. According to the 2017 annual statistical report of the Jordanian Supreme Justice Department, Jordanian authorities registered 77,700 marriage contracts in 2017, with 10,434 cases (13.4 percent) in which the wife was under 18. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 4/4/2019)