Fixing the Broken Homes of Jordan

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: this is how I feel about Jordan sometimes when I read the news. Sometimes it is a bit of a tango with reform and combating poverty, unemployment, crime et cetera. We make some minor development here and there and then something sets us back, and it seems the set backs are more than the forward movement.

Case in Point…

[PLUS] When I read the news today I saw one major piece standing out and this was HM King Abdullah’s laying the stone for a mega housing project, the largest in Jordan’s recent history. Believe it or not there are Jordanians who do not live in West Amman and have to face the horrors of makeshift homes which are at times litterally pieces of zinco and wood. Al Mafraq, arguably one of Jordan’s biggest poverty pockets, will benefit from the first phase the King just initiated, which includes a $7 million plan to start building about 600 homes on government land. 78 houses are being built in Mafraq and the second stage will begin early next year.

These housing complexes are 33 to 188 units depending on the needs of each area.

One man is about to be sentenced to death for killing two people and another man has just been set free after serving 15 months in jail for killing his married sister. In the former case it was basically about money, the second case is an “honor” crime. Here you gave a girl who had an affair with a taxi driver and got pregnant, so the administrative governor put her in detention for her own safety while she gave birth to a baby boy. The administrative governor then secured her release after arranging for her to marry the taxi driver and getting a written and signed statement from her family gaurenting her safety.

A day later her her brothers followed her to a friend’s house to confront her and after shooting her with a machine gun and having all the bullets missed their target he chases his sister into the street and with the butt of his gun bashes in her skull.

Her family, including her husband, claim she had affairs with many men for money.

Now here’s the part where I get really angry…

The tribunal also decided on Wednesday to amend the premeditated murder charges originally pressed against Mohammad to a misdemeanour as stipulated in Article 98 of the Penal Code because the defendant committed his crime in a fit of fury.

â??The victim’s unlawful and dangerous acts caused mental disturbance and great anger for the defendant and he no longer was able to control his emotions because she hurt his feelings and tarnished her family’s honour and reputation with her dishonourable acts,â? the court said.

[MINUS] The SAME tibunal convicted a 63 year old man to only 3 years in prison after killing his daughter. The daughter had opened the doors for an Egyptian worker who asked for a glass of water and grabbed her upon recieving it. She kicked him out of the house but the father became suspicious after hearing about the incident.

So what does he do? He ties his daughter up and starts to beat her with a water hose as he questions her. Hours later she admits to having an affair.

The father leaves her in the room.

She dies by next morning of internal bleeding.

Postmortem: she had no sexual activity.

Who do you blame? The brother? The grandfather? The victims? The tribunal? The individual judges? The Penal Code? The Parliament’s refusal to pass a law against honor crimes? Society?

Can Political and Economic reform happen without Social Reform first? Which one is more important? Can Economic reform bring about Social reform? Is it on the government or the people to change? Who shifts the paradigm?


One Step Forward…Two Steps Back


  • How about that ! Projects in Jordan … ever stop and think what happens when you have a bunch of poor people living togather in a small area with a real high population density.. well here in the US its probly crime, meth labs and (Jerry Springer).
    I Jordan probly prostitiution, terrorism and (Jerry Springer)

  • Great post NAS, really!

    With regards to the housings, its a great idea, I wonder if only the ones who really need the houses will get them, coz I think alot of people by now are starting to make calls to arrange a small flat for themselves, even if they don’t really need it.

    With regards to the honor killings, I invite you to my blog, I’d really appreciate your opinion there. But one thing I’d say, that it is definately all connected, social, political and economic development, we badly need reform on all levels.

  • “because the defendant committed his crime in a fit of fury.”

    what the hell is that? and she hurt his feelings???

    and the father and daughter case tells me one thing, some people do not deserve the right to raise their children the way they want, they do not and should not be given the right to discipline their sons and daughters the way they like. sadly, when I read about such cases I wonder if they would have occurred if we had laws that not only prevent honor killing but also physical abuse and coropal punishment like in the west. isn’t it sad how I find myself thinking of the west as an example and a role model? aren’t we supposed to set examples of morality, mercifulness and leaving judgement to God? *sigh*

  • Great post. I agree, there are so many people and things to be mad at under such circumstances. For me the hypocrist bothers me above all. The women die for acts, or perceived acts, what of the men? Why are men often looked up to for doing such things and women killed for the very same thing? Society, families, judges they ALL have a lot to answer for.

  • Abdo Masoud, these people who are poor are already living together in much worse situations, these housing plans help aliviate that suffering. Also it provides the basis of which the government can operate more effeciently in addressing their needs, right now you have poor people who are like nomads, no addresses. Putting them in homes, getting them out of the cold of winter, taking away some of the suffering they endure with poverty, this is a great thing. Thank you for your comment.

  • Rami, in regards to your first comment, Im doubting that someone who is “well to do” will want to make a few calls to get themselves another home…these arn’t exaclty beach front time shares. In regards to the second comment, I 100% agree with you.

    SC, I share your anger totally.

    Abu Sinan,
    yeah accountability covers many many factors when it comes to such crimes.

  • I think a campaign needs to be formed to fight for the removal or ammendment of articles 98 and 340 of our penal code.

    I believe they should be removed, but I do understand that there is great opposition to just removing them in our society, and some of our illiterate parliament members unfortunately.

    I think article 340 can be ammended so that it only applies to spouses, so that it excludes siblings, cousins, parents and children. This could be the first phase of ammendment to that law. The second phase could ask that the reduction only apply if it was evident without any doubt that the victim has actually committed the act of adultry, and that any post mortem test finding otherwise would nullify the reduction. The third phase would be to get rid of the article completely.

    Article 98 I think is absurd, I personally would like to see it removed, but again I realize it’s not that easy. I think the first phase of ammendments to this article should add the condition that it doesn’t apply in cases where the killer and the victim are related. Latter on it can be removed.

    If we can focus in the short term on the first phases of ammendments to these two articles that I mentioned above, and if we in Jordan succeed in doing so, then we will have put ourselves one step closer to solving this problem.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think these articles will be removed just like that, I think they will have to go through phases like the ones I mentioned above.

  • Nas, I’ve been so agitated since reading this on yours and Ramis blogs (and in JT), and I wasn’t going to comment.

    I counsel adult victims of childhood sexual abuse in Jordan. The overwhelming majority of cases I’ve seen involve the girl being abused by older brothers. This demeans her value (duh), and ‘presexialization’ actually then propels her into a more sexualized attitude that may mean promiscuity, which can result in the very brother who abused her being her executioner later. What could be more sick, more cruel, more evil? She pays for his theft of her honor.

    I am so thankful that you jp guys are sharing the rage here. I wrote on Natasha’s blog long ago that things will change when vocal men take up the cause in Jordan. And it has to be your generation, as evidenced by the elders – they are too entrenched in HK’s cultural acceptence to change.

    You all are the true men of honor. You can speak and model being men of strength, impact, and true ‘protection’ of women and change Jordan’s future for your little sisters and daughters. So please don’t tire of doing so.

  • My God…
    I don’t even have words to describe how horrible I think this is.
    I had a friend from Iran who told me about things such as this. With all she saw growing up there, especially how women were treated, she ended up becoming very angry towards men. I lost touch with her but I think of her often. I can’t imagine how criminal acts such as these could be justified. It is like the genital mutilation done in parts of Africa. Somehow it must end.
    Thank you for posting this.

  • Dear nas,

    I wasn’t referring to those who’d go on a time share. I always question whether the people who need those houses most, are the ones who get them, you know what I mean? There are so many levels of poverty, too.

  • Hi Nas,

    Thank you for this post; it is really great to see Jordanian men go against “honor crimes”; this makes me happy and gives me some hope that things will change eventually.

    I have commented on Rami’s post and debated with others on this very issue, and I remember hearing this same piece of news about “el nadweh” who killed his sister, and was thinking to myself; the only reason this is not treated as a regular premiditated crime that deserves life in jail; is that women are not thought of as humans; hence; it does not really matter.
    Sometimes it makes me laugh and cry at the same tiem, because the most educated man can turn into a monster if one of “his” women was suspected on anything; kinda makes you sick!!
    The change should start from the heart of our homes; from the people themselves; from the children that are brought up wrnogefully. Before deleting or changing this law; we need to add a lot of laws and regulations on domestic violence, because this is the trigger; man hits wife, son hits daughter, brother hits sister; then again man hits wife … what is wrong with the picture?

    It is time that women are given their dignity and treated with respect. When man respects his wife and treats her like a partner in good and bad times … things then will start to change.

    I don’t believe that the change will come from those who are responsible as they are already in a comfort zone so why change, after all; it’s always been done that way … (I wrote something about this on my blog; please see it here

  • kinzi, i appreciate your comments and thank you for your compliments, it is our duty to do so.

    cie, perhaps the most tragic thing about these crimes is not the death of the victim, but the justification of their death. thanx

  • rami, i agree with you, although i think (and i hope) that this time around you will see some positive changes. when the cost is high it is an investment since you are fighting poverty which is helpful to the economic infrustructure. but at the same time i share your sentiments, in some cases government officials dont care who gets what, as long they themselves benefit and leave office a few months later. let the next guy deal with poverty. this is perhaps one good reason why the king is forcing decentralization in respective regions, so they can allocate accordingly and so that if corruption shud occur it will be very tough to hide.

  • Khalida, while I share your frustration and emotion here I do have to disagree about women not being thought of as humans because Jordan and indeed the arab world is very diverse and if this were not the case than the rate of honor crimes would be daily or weekly and not monthly.

    after much consideration i have come to the conclusion that honor crimes are a very complex subject, honor itself is very frustrating to understand and deals a lot (if not entirely) on social perceptions. what is acceptable today was not acceptable decades ago and so forth. hence it is generational. but more importantly I believe women have come to represent the epitome of honor in a family or in other words if a family is a team then the woman represents its worst player. the one that is most likely to sin and bring shame on the family. that goes back to the concept of virginity, of sacredness, of men the protectors of women, and onwards to more modern perception of gender roles where a woman is considered a whore whereas a man is almost honored by his friends for some of his own sinful actions. So its a mix of many things and its has created this hardened substance that is very complex to dicepher.

    I do know that the heart of this matter is changing social perceptions and reeducation, but as a Jordanian whose lived and seen I know this is not possible. society overpowers any system which seeks to dominate it. its the reason why kids know smoking is bad for them but do it anyways because its cool. society needs to change within itself and while reeducation is the politically correct way to go human beings do not live this way…human beings have laws forced on them, fear instilled in them, and they adapt and they change and they abandon the ways which are disadvantageous to their existance.

    thank you for your comments and i will check out your blog God willing

  • I think Khalida meant that women are treated as complete different creatures, not as human beings of the same level but opposite in gender. Inferiority, that’s where all of our problems start.

    I ‘ve given up on the system, it will not change just like that and society is just as bad as the system. if women did not struggle to earn their rights they will never have them.

  • Thank you SC for clarifying that

    And I add to what you said that those women who struggle have a high price to pay .. ask me … I would know and the real hard way

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