Adultery is a crime in Jordan, which can result in a prison term. Not only are the young children separated from their incarcerated parents, they too are forbidden from using their family name.
Almost 60 percent of all children in the care of SOS Children in the three SOS Children’s Villages in Jordan were born out of wedlock, or have one or both parents in prison. As an advocate for children’s rights, SOS Children have taken steps to encourage Jordan’s government to adhere to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The agreement states that all children have the right to a name and to know and be cared for by their parents.
In 2009, SOS Children in Jordan began talks with the Ministry of Social Development, urging the government to uphold the rights of children to an identity and a family name. On October 26, together with Jordan’s National Centre for Human Rights, SOS Children held a roundtable discussion to launch a campaign on the rights of children born out of wedlock and children without identity. The gathering was attended by 80 participants, including representatives from the Jordan government, religious leaders, and members of civil society.
Lina Mola, director of SOS Children in Jordan, said the forum was the first step towards supporting children who are discriminated against because of the state-condemned actions of their parents. The event provided a forum for open discussion, and the participants heard directly from young people affected by the affected by the regulations. “The problem is not with us,” said one young person who suffers from such stigma. “It is with the perception that people have of us.”
SOS Children advocates internationally for the rights of children who have lost or are at risk of losing parental care. The SOS Campaign to protect the rights of children without parental care extends beyond Jordan. Mola views changes in other Middle Eastern countries as an indication of general progress in the recognition of child rights. “In Algeria, fathers are now obliged to take a paternity test,” says Mola. “We would like to see the same progress in Jordan and enable mothers to give [children] their names without fearing for their lives.”
Read more about our work in Jordan.