Published: 2018-03-27 10:44
Last Updated: 2018-03-27 12:03
Editor: Arwad Khalifeh
Marriage proposals can be nerve-wracking at the best of times; they’re even more intimidating when you’re in the Arab world. But when a woman is turned down for marriage because of her disability, that’s when we, as a society, need to talk.
Hiba Hijazi, a young Jordanian woman, told Roya in an interview on Monday that a woman had called her mother to ask if she and her son could pay them a visit to ask for her hand in marriage - an outdated, common practice in the Arab world.
When Hiba’s mother told the woman that her daughter is wheelchair-bound, the woman was horrified, began to stammer, apologized for calling and hung up the phone, without at least trying to be diplomatic and salvage the situation of which she clearly didn’t approve.
As hurtful as that must have been for Hiba to bear, it was also disturbing.
“It’s not just those on a wheelchair who count as disabled, there are others who count as disabled too, such as those who are morally-disabled, intellectually-disabled and those with a disabled conscience,” Hiba said.
There are many misconceptions about disability in Jordanian society. To this day, some people are convinced that the handicapped can’t have children, and if they do, then they will inherit their parent’s disability.
Physical disabilities can be either hereditary or acquired.
The Handicaps Welfare Association explains the difference between the two types:
Congenital/Hereditary – the person has physical disability since birth or the disability developed at a later stage due to genetic problems, problems with muscle cells or injury during birth.
Acquired – the person acquired the physical disability through road or industrial accidents, infections such as polio or diseases and disorders such as stroke or cancer.
There is at least one disabled person in 7.7% of Jordanian households, with males making up 59% of that percentage and women making up the other 41%, according to the Sisterhood Is Global Institute (SIGI). The stigma surrounding disability is of a much higher percentage.
In June 2017, a new law was introduced by the Lower House to grant more rights for people with disabilities.
“The new legislation perceives those with disabilities in a new way by adopting a definition of disability that takes into account the physical barriers that hinder their ability to lead a normal life,” Muhannad Azzeh, secretary general of the Higher Council for People with Disabilities (HCD), told The Jordan Times at the time.
The law also introduced a new concept that allows disabled people to make informed decisions for themselves.
“This concept is a proof of a country’s enlightenment. It means that the country is obligated to explore all means and tools to acquaint people with disabilities of the consequences of any of their decisions and allow them to practice their legal capacity as citizens,” Azzeh highlighted.
In conclusion, the only persons placing an obstacle in disabled people’s way are those people who were perfectly described by Hiba above.