Jordanian lawmakers trade punches in parliament amid heated discussion on women’s rights

By Céline Alkhaldi, CNN

Chaos erupted in Jordan’s parliament on Tuesday as lawmakers threw their punches at each other after discussion of a constitutional amendment that would grant more rights to women heated up.

Video of the event shows a handful of lawmakers in a physical altercation, fighting and threatening and cursing each other. Even the Speaker of Parliament has resorted to outbursts of anger to deal with the unrest.

The brawl broke out between conservative lawmakers Hassan Riati and Shadi Udwan after insults and blasphemous comments made, according to a source who saw the events unfold firsthand. Several other deputies were subsequently caught in the stampede.

The crash unfolded as lawmakers prepared to debate a constitutional amendment to address Jordanian citizens in both female and male form. Jordanian women currently enjoy the same rights with regard to their right to health care, education, political participation and employment, but do not enjoy the same nationality and citizenship rights as women. men. For example, women cannot pass their nationality on to their children or spouses, but men can.

The proposed amendment, which is one of a series of changes supported by King Abdullah II aimed at modernizing Jordan, has met fierce opposition from conservative parliamentarians who view the change with disdain. One of these parliamentarians, Mohammad Al Fayez, said the proposed changes were ultimately “against morality and motherhood”.

Parliamentary proceedings were halted after several lawmakers started yelling at lawmaker Abdulmunim Oddat, who was trying to defend the amendment by arguing that it did not add any new provisions to the constitution and was only intended to create a “Linguistic equality”.

Reem Abu Hassan, a lawyer who served on a royal committee tasked with modernizing the constitution, told CNN that the language of the current constitution reflects the standards of Arabic written in the 1950s, when groups of people were designated in masculine terms.

“We thought it was time for the country’s constitution to make reference to a woman very clearly,” she said.

Abu Hassan explained that while some lawmakers fear that the amendment will override the terms of the Inheritance or Citizenship Law, the primary purpose of the amendment is to ensure that women play a more active role in the law. public life. Inheritance laws in the country, which are based on Sharia law, often see a man’s share double that of a woman.

Gender equality is a controversial topic among social conservatives in Jordan, who have long resisted granting equal rights to women.

Salma Nims, secretary general of the Jordanian National Commission for Women, told CNN that Jordanian far-right and Islamic movements see the struggle for women’s equality as a stain on women’s morality and open the door to new freedoms.

“For them, women’s equality means that women will be able to enjoy freedom over their bodies, and this changes the morality of society and the unity of the family,” Nims said.

“Whenever the women’s movement comes closer to achieving something, to living with dignity in this country, the patriarchal system fears that this will mean a change in the power relations within society”, a- she declared.

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