Lawmaker Wafa Bani Mustafa delivers a first for Jordanian women

Updated 08 March 2019
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Lawmaker Wafa Bani Mustafa delivers a first for Jordanian women

AMMAN: When Wafa Bani Mustafa decided to run for Jordan’s Parliament in 2010, using the newly created women’s quota, few believed she could win. The mother-of-two faced resistance both in her village Suf and the Jerash district.

“I ran for office at age 31, the minimum age allowed to run for Parliament,” she told Arab News.

However, Bani Mustafa had a clear idea of her campaign platform from the outset. “I decided to focus on the needs of working mothers,” she said. Not only did the lawyer overcome the odds to emerge victorious, she has since run for Parliament twice and won.

However, it would take Bani Mustafa three parliamentary terms before she was able, along with others, to introduce and pass legislation that advances the rights of working women.

The difficulties that women in Jordan encounter daily are not limited to the workplace. The House of Representatives was a microcosm of the country’s conservative, male-dominated society. “When I ran for the leadership of a parliamentary bloc in 2011, I was criticized by some of my male colleagues,” she recalled.

Today Bani Mustafa is Jordan’s leading female parliamentarian, having served on the board of the National Council on Human Rights and campaigned for a change in the law that stops Jordanian women passing on their citizenship to their children.

But of all Bani Mustafa’s achievements, the one that gives her greatest satisfaction is her successful campaign to overturn a Jordanian law that allowed rapists to escape punishment if they married their victims. “It is the change of Article 308 that left a mark,” she said.

True to form, Bani Mustafa has not restricted her advocacy of women’s rights to the relatively limited ambit of Jordan. She has headed the committee of the pan-Arab Women’s Parliamentary Commission dedicated to combating domestic violence.

“I am a feminist and I believe in feminism and want more women to fight for feminist issues, but I also have opinions and ideas about all of society,” she said.

“We need to work a lot on our culture and society, as they have in Tunisia. Most of the rest of the Arab world is still struggling in this area.”


Israeli forces kill Palestinian suspected of deadly attack in West Bank

Updated 20 March 2019
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Israeli forces kill Palestinian suspected of deadly attack in West Bank

  • The assailant was killed after he opened fire at Israeli forces who had come to arrest him, the Shin Bet said
  • The Palestinian health ministry said two more Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers near Nablus

JERUSALEM: Israeli forces on Tuesday killed a Palestinian suspected of carrying out a deadly stabbing and shooting attack in the occupied West Bank two days earlier, the Israeli Shin Bet security service said.
The assailant was killed after he opened fire at Israeli forces who had come to arrest him, the Shin Bet said. The Palestinian health ministry confirmed a person had been killed in the clash, but provided no further details.
In what appeared to be a separate incident, the Palestinian health ministry said two more Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers near the West Bank city of Nablus. An Israeli army spokeswoman said the report was being looked into.
On Sunday, a suspected Palestinian assailant fatally stabbed a soldier at an intersection on a busy West Bank highway and opened fire at the scene using the conscript’s rifle, killing an Israeli rabbi and wounding a second soldier.
Palestinians, many of them people without links to armed groups, carried out a wave of attacks in the West Bank in late 2015 and 2016 but the frequency of such incidents has since decreased.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians seek to establish a state there and in the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.