First Published: 2018-04-16

Jordan introduces free pre-marriage counselling to lower divorce rates
A Jordanian couple greet their guests at their wedding party at a hotel in downtown Amman.
Middle East Online

By Roufan Nahhas - AMMAN

A Jordanian couple greet their guests at their wedding party at a hotel in downtown Amman

AMMAN - In a move to lower divorce rates, Jordan has implemented a comprehensive programme to prepare couples for a long married life by focusing on four key aspects of their future.

The pre-nuptial programme has been hailed as a positive move. There is an average of 80,000 marriage contracts sealed in Jordan annually but nearly 21,000 cases of divorce are registered each year.

“There is a decrease in the number of marriages in Jordan and this is unhealthy. The main reasons for the trend are the lack of financial means and fear of assuming the responsibility of raising a family,” said Hussein Khazai, a professor of sociology at Jordan University.

“The lack of knowledge of the true meaning of marriage among young people makes the idea of getting married a problem and not a solution.”

The number of marriages dropped to 77,700 in 2017 from 81,343 in 2016. Irbid governorate in northern Jordan registered the highest number with 28% and Karak governorate in the south the lowest with 1.4%, statistics from the Supreme Judge Department indicate.

An estimated 45% of Jordanians are unmarried, Khazai said.

“There are some 150,000 men over 30 and 100,000 women over 27 who are not married,” he said. “Men carry a lot of burdens and are under pressure to provide necessary marriage requirements, including high dowry demanded by the girl’s family.”

The pre-marital counselling programme offered by the Chief Islamic Justice Department is optional. It includes lectures and seminars covering marriage-related rights and duties in line with sharia and laws governing family matters, such as health aspects of spousal relations, children’s education and personal communication and managing household finances.

“The marriage certificate given by the Chief Islamic Justice Department is an excellent and positive means for preparing couples who are in the process of getting married. It increases awareness about all aspects of married life, which, in my opinion, is what we need,” said Alia Saed, a single Jordanian woman.

“I have many friends who got married but soon they faced many issues. If they had the chance to go to such seminars about marriage, I believe most of the problems would have been solved.”

Others say lack of knowledge about responsibilities and duties that come with being married is not the obstacle that is stopping young people from getting married.

“We are living in the knowledge age and information about marriage is accessible everywhere but I think the most important issue that couples face is financial insecurity,” said Ayman Horani, who owns a car washing business.

“How can a young person get married and provide a secure life for his family when his monthly income is not sufficient to sustain himself? The man should provide a house, furniture, food, pay bills and school tuitions and this does not come cheap.”

Horani said the increase in the cost of getting married was leading many Jordanian men to marry foreigners.

“Foreign women don’t ask for dowry or an expensive house and a car, and today one can easily find a bride online, travel to meet her and get married,” he said.

The Supreme Judge Department statistics show that, in 2017, approximately 3,413 Jordanian men married non-Jordanian Arab women and 467 married foreigners, while 3,582 Jordanian women married Arab nationals and 333 married non-Arabs.

Ashraf Omari, spokesman for the chief Islamic judge, encouraged couples planning to get married to follow the counselling programme. “It is very flexible and does not delay or complicate any planned marriage,” he said.

“It is a one-day programme that covers key issues in married life and it is free for now. It is limited (to Amman) for the time being but we need to take it to locations all over the kingdom. The programme targets those who are over 18 but also, in special cases, those who are underage,” Omari told local media.

The programme has been introduced to refugees at Zaatari, Jordan’s first official Syrian refugee camp and home for nearly 80,000 people. Early marriages are becoming increasingly common among Syrian refugees.

Roufan Nahhas, based in Jordan, has been covering cultural issues in Jordan for more than two decades.

This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.

 

Russia mulls supplying S-300 missile systems to Syria

Bashir fires Sudan foreign minister

Washington: Assad still has 'limited' chemical capability

US has 'concerns' about Turkey holding fair vote under state of emergency

Saudi women embrace sports headscarves

Saudi Arabia to host first public film screening

Fiery kites adopted as new tactic by Gaza protesters

HRW criticises Lebanon for evicting Syria refugees

Saudi says intercepted ballistic missile from Yemen

European MPs urge US not to scrap Iran deal

Oil price soars to highest level in years

Two more pro-Kurdish MPs stripped of Turkey seats

Oil theft 'costing Libya over $750 million annually'

Turkey's snap polls: bold gambit or checkmate for Erdogan?

Iran arrests senior official over public concert

Bahrain sentences 24 to jail, strips citizenship

UN experts urge Iran to cancel Kurd's death sentence

Moderate quake strikes near Iran nuclear power plant

Syria regime forces caught in surprise IS attack

Turkey sentences 18 to life for killing ‘hero’ coup soldier

Exxon faces setback in Iraq as oil and water mix

Libya to clamp down on fuel smuggling

Yemen to arrest colonel for overlooking African migrant rape

Erdogan sends Turkey to snap polls on June 24

Qatar joins Gulf military exercise in apparent compromise

Saudi-Russia oil alliance likely to undercut OPEC

UN in security talks with Syria on chemical probe

Riyadh says two al Qaeda militants killed in Yemen

Record of women candidates in Lebanon, but you can't tell from TV

Sudan protests to UN over Egypt voting in disputed area

Erdogan calls Turkey snap polls for June 24

Rights watchdog say African migrants face rape, torture in Yemen

Nine years since last vote, Lebanon in election fever

Israeli fire neat Gaza border injures five Palestinian

Egypt army says killed jihadist leader in Sinai

Iraq sentences over 300 people to death for IS links

Syria chemical weapons visit delayed after gunfire

Syria regime shells last jihadist pockets in Damascus

After the war is won, ‘we shall not return’ to Mosul

Saudi Arabia to host cinema test screening with 'Black Panther'

Trump voices support for US pastor jailed in Turkey

Rouhani says Iran will make or buy any weapons it needs

US fears ceding influence to Russia, Iran in Syria

Nationalist Erdogan ally calls for snap Turkey elections

Saudi renews offer to deploy troops to Syria