Over on Feministing, Jessica Valenti wrote about Queen Rania's project to convince Jordanian women that it isn't okay for their husbands to use physical and verbal violence against them.
Unfortunately, I believe the queen's project is doomed to do very little good.
Unless the queen partners with respected religious scholars, I think her whole effort is at best going to keep Jordanian public opinion where it is (and not-at-best fail to prevent it from sliding even worse).
If Islamic law is interpreted as my studies have told me that most literate/semi-educated Muslims think it should be, the queen's campaign would pretty much just have to be a matter of repeating to the public, over and over again, what their own religion actually says about women's rights not to be violently punished by their spouses.
However, Jordan's queen isn't going to partner with the religious scholars/leaders who would LOVE a louder megaphone to tell women that they have rights not to be violently punished by their spouses.
Because they, with their sensible readings of a body of law that's actually pretty sensible, would also, if given a megaphone, suddenly be audible saying, "Totalitarianism from the king isn't right."
So though the queen's heart is in the right place, I think her strategy of trying to convince women that they have rights in a secular way is:
- not going to do even 5% of the good that trying to convince them in a religious way would and
- going to let even that "5%" bit of good be canceled out by opposing messages about women's rights coming into women's ears from anti-women's-rights clerics/"scholars" (who will actually be audible if the sensible clerics & scholars still don't have that "megaphone" of partnership with the queen.)
However, I do think some letters to NGO heads, heads of state, and religious officials encouraging this collaboration might help.
Yes, I think they might help make it happen even though all the political scientists in the world will sardonically say it'll never happen (because of the totalitarian king).
Ali Eteraz's letter-writing campaigns like that have done a lot of good. Maybe letter-writing campaigns organized elsewhere can, too.