A facade of democracy: Negotiating the rights of orphans in Jordan

H Farahat, Kristen Cheney

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Many orphans in Jordan, according to Islamic Family Law, lack the lawful lineage that forms the basis of rights such as the right to a family name or inheritance. In a society that is characterized by a tribal sense of belonging and patrilineal entitlement, these legal disadvantages, added to the hardships of orphanhood, manifest themselves in orphans’ everyday lives, resulting in social stigma and discrimination. Orphans and youth without lawful lineage recently began organizing to expose the discrimination toward them, demand their rights, and push for social change by breaking through fear and taboo, but change proved difficult. Using empirical data and interviews with orphans in Jordan, this article investigates how they experience the patriarchy of law, society, and the state. It situates and deconstructs contested notions of identity, citizenship, and nationality in the Jordanian context and considers how these constructions converge to affect the lives of these youth, in both gendered and generational ways. We argue that orphans’ direct action did not yield its expected results because of the social and legal constrictions of their citizenship, bolstered by an ethos of charity and a facade of democracy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-157
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Studies of Childhood
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2015

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