By Renad Aljadid – Jul 18,2018 – JORDAN TIMES
AMMAN — The Chief Islamic Justice Department has announced that engaged couples under 18 will have to undergo a mandatory training programme at the end of which they will be given a “marriage licence” indicating their readiness to get married, an official said on Tuesday.
“The decision aims to educate young engaged couples before committing to marriage and help them overcome family conflicts and disagreements,” Mansour Tawalbeh, director of the Judicial Institute of Jordan, told The Jordan Times.
The one-day training programme will entail educational and awareness lectures on five main aspects.
These include marriage-related rights and duties in line with the civil and the Sharia law, health aspects of spousal relations, social aspects of children’s education and personal communication, psychological aspects, economic aspects and managing household finances, according to Tawalbeh.
For Akef Maaytah, a lawyer and a legal expert in marriage issues in Sharia courts, “this is a good step to deal with early marriage and raise awareness among young couples within a legal and binding framework, but it is not enough.”
“The decision reflects the department’s acknowledgment that couples under the age of 18 are unaware of the marriage issues at this age,” Maaytah told The Jordan Times, adding “the programme includes a series of lectures but it is not followed by an exam or revision like educational lectures, so how can we assess their understanding and later their implementation in real life?”
He noted that couples may attend the lectures just “for the sake of obtaining the certificate by the end of the day”, but there will be no guarantees that they have been listening carefully and taking things seriously.
Tawalbeh said that the one-day programme reflects the department’s gradual approach, adding that the plan will be evaluated to amend it in the future.
“I believe that Jordan is the first country in the Middle East to implement such a decision,” the cleric noted, adding: “In the future, we aim to include couples above the age of 18 so as to reduce the divorce rates in Jordan.”
He said that the binding decision comes in accordance with the Article 36 of the Personal Status Law 2010, stressing that the programme was designed and will be delivered by specialised experts. The training will be implemented gradually until all governorates are included.
“The decision targets all people on the Jordanian land including refugees and residents of other nationalities as we believe this service should be offered to everyone,” he stressed.
The department’s official statistics showed that 77,700 marriage contracts were issued in 2017, of which 10,434 involved marriages in which the wife was under the age of 18.
Meanwhile, the report showed that the divorce cases in 2017 amounted to 5,335, in which 413 cases involved wives under age of 18, marking “the lowest divorce percentage among other age groups”, Tawalbeh said.