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Mothers lead campaign against amendment to 2022 child law

Amendment involves removing word ‘parents’ from article, replacing it with ‘father or guardian’

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Sep 26,2022 - Last updated at Sep 27,2022

Members of a campaign titled ‘Joint Custody’ protest outside the Lower House on Sunday (Photo courtesy of Manal Kasht)

AMMAN — A group of mothers have launched a campaign titled “Joint Custody” protesting an amendment approved by the House of Representatives to Article 17, Section 1, of the 2022 Children Rights Law regarding the right to make decisions related to a child’s education.

The amendment involved removing the word “parents” from the article, and replacing it with the words “father or guardian”. The Ministry of Justice defines “guardian” as the father or paternal grandfather of the child.

On Sunday, members of the campaign gathered in front of the House of Representatives in protest of this decision. 

Haneen Assaf, a member of the campaign, noted that there’s no justification for this amendment. 

“Excluding mothers from decisions undermines their role as nurturers, especially since the responsibility of childcare in our society falls disproportionately on the shoulders of mothers,” she told The Jordan Times.

“Even though this decision doesn’t affect me directly at the moment, I still have a responsibility as a woman to speak up against it,” Assaf, who isn’t herself a mother, added.

She also pointed out that single mothers in Jordan already lack control of various aspects of their children’s lives due to similar laws.

Aveen Kurdi, a divorced mother who is also a member of the campaign, told The Jordan Times: “This law has a serious and direct impact on my life. 

She added that this amendment is a “letdown” to all single mothers.

“I am the main provider for the house, so it’s really offensive to find out that I don’t have a say in decisions related to my daughter’s education,” she continued. 

Kurdi is also the leader of an initiative titled “La Todar” (meaning “do not hurt”), which was launched in August with the aim of advocating against “legal violence on divorced women and their children”. 

Manal Kasht, another member, told The Jordan Times: “Parenthood is a partnership; both fathers and mothers should have an equal say when deciding what’s best for their children”.

The mother of two also noted that this amendment “contravenes the principle of the best interests of the child”, opening the door for conflict and increasing tension between parents, especially in case of divorce. 

“Lots of parents are separated, and this law can be used as leverage against a divorced mother in various ways,” she said.

Campaign representatives spoke with some members of Parliament, who made promises to try and reopen the discussion on this amendment under the Dome, according to Kasht.

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