KHF Outreach
New IRC Study Tackles Social Stigma and Status of Families of Jordanian Mothers Married to Foreigners
13th October 2011

NCCA Interactive Theatre Troupe Presents "Min 7aqqi"

"They call me the 'Egytian Muhammad' here as a nickname and when I went to Egypt they called me the 'Jordanian Muhammad'," a young man explains on video.  "I was shocked... you should decide [what nationality I am]."

The remarks made on camera by a young man born to a Jordanian mother and an Egyptian father help put a human face on the dilemma of children  whose Jordanian mothers are married to foreigners.

The video clip was played as part of a presentation of the results of a new study into the welfare of the non-Jordanian families of Jordanian women conducted by the Information and Research Center (IRC) with funding from the European Commission.

IRC Director Nermeen Murad noted that the IRC researches the impact of public policy on the lives of thousands of families in Jordan and that the objective of this particular study was to redress the gender bias against women who marry foreigners in Jordan.

"Currently the children and spouses are not allowed Jordanian citizenship and this is a political issue that isn't in our mandate to tackle," Murad said, "however it is within our mandate to look into the socio economic welfare of these families in Jordan."

The study suggests that Jordanian law be amended to include a provision for the residency of the non-Jordanian family of Jordanian women.

The study includes a legal review and a cost/benefit analysis based on the number of Jordanian women married to non-Jordanian men.

According to calculations published on its new website devoted to this issue,, the IRC shows that if the Jordanian government were to grant residency and civic rights to the children and spouses of Jordanian women married to non-Jordanians, the direct economic benefits would outweigh the direct economic costs by more than 9 million dinars.

The study also includes child participatory research, in which three workshops allowed the teenage children of these marriages  to use structured mind mapping and collage to create their vision of family, country, language, religion and sense-of-belonging.

Murad remarked that the most surprising observation was the passion of the participant's commitment to Jordan.

"The [majority of these] children, despite the hardships and despite the bullying and despite the social stigma, wanted to be associated with Jordan and each one of them went out there and said 'I'm Jordanian'," said Murad.  "They refused this other identity that they were given because they believe that their identity is closely tied to where they live, where they have their memories, and where they have their homes, and friends and family."

At the presentation the audience also heard testimonies from some of the young people who participated in the research.

An interactive play by the National Center for Culture and Performing Arts (NCCA) called "Min 7aqqi" - or "It is my right" highlighted some of the challenges the children and families of foreigners married to Jordanian women face in their daily lives.

Audience members, including several members of Parliament, then had the chance to engage in serious dialogue about the issues raised in the play.

The results of the IRC study will be published on a newly created interactive website next month.

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