Marriage Registration among Palestinians and Syrians in Jordan

Debating Identity, Society, and Displacement

In: Sociology of Islam

Based on long-term fieldwork in Jordan, this paper discusses two marriage registration practices that have become topics of public debate and locus for intervention projects of development organizations: the early registration of marriages among Palestinian camp residents, and the non-registration of marriages among Syrian refugees. This paper shows how the narratives around marriage registration play a role in the production of identity and senses of belonging and provides insight into the overlaps and gaps between the discourses of development organizations and the concerns of those involved in these practices. In the Palestinian case, the early registration of marriage provides the couple with a limited but important space to get acquainted before the wedding. Women’s organizations and NGOs, however, often blame this practice for the increase in divorce rates before consummation. In the Syrian case, organizations focus on the negative legal and social consequences of not registering a marriage with the state, while conversations with Syrians reveal the obstacles they face while navigating the Jordanian legal system and their need to legitimize their non-registration of marriages.

  • Abaza Mona (2001). Perceptions of Urfi marriages in the Egyptian press. Isim Newsletter, 7: 20–21.

  • Amawi Abla (2000). Gender and citizenship in Jordan. In Joseph, Suad (ed.), Gender and Citizenship in the Middle East, pp. 158–184. New York: Syracuse University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Anderson J.N.D. (1955). The Syrian Law of Personal Status. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 17(1): 34–49. DOI:10.1017/S0041977X00106330.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Buckley-Zistel Susanne , and Krause Ulrike (2017). Gender, violence, refugees: An introduction. In Buckley-Zistel, Susanne and Ulrike Krause (eds.), Gender, Violence and Refugee Communities, pp. 1–18. New York: Berghahn Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davis Rochelle and Taylor Abbie (2013). Syrian Refugees in Jordan and Lebanon: A Snapshot from Summer 2013. Washington DC: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hughes Geoffrey (2015). Infrastructures of legitimacy: The political lives of marriage contracts in Jordan. American Ethnologist, 42(2): 279–294. DOI:10.1111/amet.12130.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Merry Sally Engle (2006). Transnational human rights and local activism: Mapping the middle. American Anthropologist, 108(1): 38–51. DOI:10.1525/aa.2006.108.1.38.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mir-Hosseini Ziba (1994). Strategies of selection: Differing notions of marriage in Iran and Morocco. In El-Solh, Camilla Fawzi. and Judy Mabro (eds.), Muslim Women’s Choices: Religious Belief and Social Reality, pp. 55–72. London: Berg Publishers.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moors Annelies (1995). Women, Property and Islam: Palestinian Experiences, 1920–1990 . Cambridge, New York, and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

    • Export Citation
  • Moors Annelies (2013). Unregistered Islamic marriages: Anxieties about sexuality and Islam in the Netherlands. In Berger, Maurits S. (ed.), Applying Shariʻa in the West: Facts, Fears and the Future of Islamic Rules on Family Relations in the West, pp. 141–164. Leiden: Leiden University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) (2015, October 15). Registering Rights: Syrian Refugees and the Documentation of Births, Marriages, and Deaths in Jordan. Cambridge: IHRC, Harvard Law School.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Polfus Turid Smith (2014). Fiqh arguments for the Palestinian khulʿ divorce (before consummation). Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World, 12(1): 49–78. DOI:10.1163/15692086-12341255.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sonneveld Nadia (2009). Rethinking the difference between formal and informal marriages in Egypt. Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, 15: 53–77.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Turner Lewis (2015). Explaining the (non-) encampment of Syrian refugees: Security, class and the labour market in Lebanon and Jordan. Mediterranean Politics, 20(3): 1–19. DOI:10.1080/13629395.2015.1078125.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Turner Simon (2017). Victims of chaos and subaltern sexualities?: Some reflections on common assumptions about displacement and the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence. In Buckley-Zistel, Susanne and Ulrike Krause (eds.), Gender, Violence and Refugee Communities, pp. 44–57. New York: Berghahn Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNICEF (2014). A Study on Early Marriage in Jordan. Jordan: UNICEF.

  • Van Eijk Esther (2013). Family Law in Syria: A Plurality of Laws, Norms, and Legal Practices [Doctoral dissertation, Leiden University].

  • Vigh Henrik (2009). Motion squared: A second look at the concept of social navigation. Anthropological Theory, 9(4): 419–438. DOI:10.1177/1463499609356044.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Divorce of 5 thousand Jordanian women whose marriage did not last one year (2017, March 13). Gerasa News. Retrieved from http://www.gerasanews.com/article/261630 (accessed 11-01-2018 -Arabic).

  • Nimri Nadeen (2017, February 28). To give birth to a child outside of wedlock in Jordan. Raseef , 22. Retrieved from http://raseef22.com/life/2017/02/28/%d8%a3%d9%86-%d8%aa%d9%86%d8%ac%d8%a8%d9%8a-%d8%b7%d9%81%d9%84%d8%a7%d9%8b-%d8%ae%d8%a7%d8%b1%d8%ac-%d8%a5%d8%b7%d8%a7%d8%b1-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%b2%d9%88%d8%a7%d8%ac-%d9%81%d9%8a-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%a3%d8%b1/ (accessed 11-01-2018- Arabic).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Petra (2014, June 16). Concerned entities look into Syrian refugee marriage issues. Jordan Times. Retrieved from https://jordantimes.com/news/local/concerned-entities-look-syrian-refugee-marriage-issues (accessed 11-01-2018).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Prevalence of undocumented marriages among refugees in Ramtha (2016, 4 Feb). Alrai. Retrieved from http://alrai.com/article/766069.html (accessed 11-01-2018-Arabic).

  • Jordan’s Personal Status Law no. 36, 2010.

  • Syria’s Personal Status law no. 59, 1953 and amendments, 2009.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 140 131 8
Full Text Views 86 81 4
PDF Downloads 24 21 2