On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic and which has now spread to nearly every country in the world. The Director-General of WHO has called on countries to take actions in order to contain the virus. The UN Secretary General has urged all governmentsto make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part oftheir national response plans for COVID-19, putting women’s safety first.1 This guidance note on gender-based violence (GBV) service provision highlights the impact of COVID-19 in Jordan from a GBV perspective and provides key messages and recommendations for action by service providers and other stakeholders. The Sexual and Gender Based Violence sub Working Group (SGBV WG)2 with this guidance note aims at providing GBV practitioners with a framework to ensure continuity of safe and confidential GBV services in the context of the different stages of COVID emergency. The paper is organized in different sections. It starts by providing a background on the COVID and GBV epidemic in the country, then reflects on COVID impact on GBV risks and service provisions; section three looks at the post lockdown stage, and then recommendations and messages to be disseminated. The paper offers examples that showcase the work of GBV actors in Jordan during this crisis.
In Jordan, the first case of coronavirus was identified on 2 March 2020 and in two weeks, the number increased rapidly. To prevent the spread of the epidemic, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan announced Defense Ordinance number 1 on 18 March and proceeded with a lockdown on 20 March which suspended all private sector activities and government services except for some health and securityservices.
Accordingly, SGBV service providers shifted many of their activities from direct to remote implementation including remote case management, helplines, legal aid and psychosocial support (PSS) while keeping in operation some in person lifesaving services like safe shelter and clinical management of rape (CMR) services.
Jordan is a low middle income country that has hosted several waves of refugees and displaced persons as a result of prolonged conflict in the Middle East, leading to pressure on natural resources, growing income disparities and increase in poverty. As of 5 April 2020, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recorded 656,213 registered Syrian refugees in Jordan, a number that has remained consistent over the past three years due to the increased entry restrictions into the Kingdom. Among the Syrian refugee population 25.8 % are women, 24.5 % are men, 24.3 % are girls and 25.5% are boys.
Moreover, Jordan hosts 90,305 refugees from other nationalities.
Gender Based Violence is commonplace in the life of many women and girls in Jordan. This is due to gender inequality, social norms, harmful traditional practices and unequal education opportunities. According to Jordan GBV Information Management System (IMS) data of 2019, 95.2% of SGBV survivors who reported exposure to SGBV were women or girls. Emotional violence is the main type of gender- based violence reported (48.4%) by survivorsfollowed by physical assault(24%)3 . In terms of nationalities ofsurvivorswho seek help, 70% are Syrians, 23% are Jordanian and 7% are refugees of other nationalities, mainly Iraqis and Sudanese.
In 2019, 88% GBV perpetratorsreported to case management agencies in Jordan were husbands or family members, mainly males4 . Many survivors of violence have been trapped in their homes with their abusers since the beginning of movement restrictions measures.