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University of Baltimore Law Review

Abstract

Gender equality is touted as key for sustainable development, improved public health, decreased poverty, and robust democratic systems. Yet despite growing interest by international bodies and national governments, the "gendering" of rule of law reform has received limited critical attention. This Article argues that transformative gendered rule of law reform requires holistic and intersectional analysis of the domestic legal landscape that genuinely accounts for lived experiences. Using Jordan as a case study, it critiques the short-sighted and perhaps harmful "technical" feminist law reform efforts of calling for repeal of isolated provisions related to sensational "honor killings." As in many countries, Jordan's legal system sends mixed messages about the state's role in delineating and dismantling gender roles and stereotypes that undergird laws which both reflect and shape popular perceptions. Such laws may persist in part due to an alarming dearth of research on the immense physical, psychological, and emotional toll inherent in maintaining a social order premised on gender stereotypes-such as women's actual or suspected conduct serving as proxy for family or community honor. This Article asserts that gendering reform of laws premised on gender stereotypes requires holistic analysis that includes shifting the discourse toward health impact data and collective gains and away from often unproductive campaigns perceived to condemn "culture and tradition." A public health and human rights framing could provide a more "neutral" and disarming lens of analysis and deepen advocacy beyond sensational cases and short-term spikes in public attention toward a long-term holistic reform agenda that seeks to dismantle patterns of power and abuse fueled by legally-entrenched gender stereotypes.

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