Dr Dorthe Engelcke (Max Planck Institute, Hamburg) gives a discussion Chair: Dr Michael Willis (St Antony's College).
Family law – the law regulating marriage, divorce, custody, polygyny and guardianship among others - is one of the most sensitive areas in Muslim-majority countries. Morocco and Jordan both issued new family codes in the 2000s, but there are a number of differences in the ways these two states engaged in reform. These include how the reform was carried out, the content of the new family codes, and the way the new laws are applied. In Morocco, the process of reform became less dominated by actors who had received religious training, whereas in Jordan the da'irat qadi al-qudat, the shariʿa court administration, retook control over family law reform. In Morocco it was King Muhammad VI who took the lead. By contrast, in Jordan King Abdullah II was largely absent from the reform process. The 2004 Moroccan code proclaims international law as one of its sources, whereas the preamble of the Jordanian 2010 law states that the law is based entirely on Islamic sources. Whereas international actors like UN Women were engaged in the implementation of the 2004 family code in Morocco, they did not play a similar role in Jordan. This talk investigates why similar states varied in their engagement with family law reform. It demonstrates that the structure of the legal systems, shaped by colonial policies, had an effect on how reform processes were carried out, and on the content and the application of the law. The talk draws attention to why and how certain inequalities have developed over time and how they impact on women’s and children’s rights today.