Displacement, humanitarian interventions and gender rights in the Middle East: syrian refugees in Jordan as a case study

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The article focuses on a particular type of Islamic marriage, so-called imam marriages, which are not recognised by the Jordanian state but widely practised among and with Syrian refugees since their influx to Jordan in 2011. State institutions and feminist humanitarian organisations advocate a registration of these marriages on the basis of fulfilling UN conventions on gender and human rights protection. I, however, argue in this article that the enforcement of marriage registration and the implementation of a hegemonic moral order in Jordan give rise to the contradictory deployment of gender and human security protection these state and non-state actors claim to ensure. Imposed policies undermine the safety and social standing of Syrian refugee women in Jordan, in particular, by exposing them to increased public hypervisibility. This article analyses imam marriages within their multi-layered local and transnational socio-political contexts, highlighting thereby the wider complexity of power relations in which intersecting and, very often conflicting, structures place women in more vulnerable positions. The article provides new insights into the impact of humanitarian interventions on gender rights and the safety of displaced people in the Middle East by taking Syrian refugees in Jordan as a case study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3329-3344
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number15
Early online date18 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Jordan
  • Refugees
  • Syria
  • humanitarian intervention
  • imam marriages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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