Women in Jordan - Continuing Violence and Absent Protection (August 2020)

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Euro-Med Monitor Report: ‘Women in Jordan: Continuing Violence and Absent Protection’

Despite the rise of acts of violence committed against women in recent years, the official measures are still not enough to curb such behaviors, said Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.

This rise of crimes and violence – most recently, last Friday, when a man burned his wife to death – is a result of a number of factors, most importantly, the absence of deterrent penalties against perpetrators.

In a brief report entitled “Women in Jordan: Continuing Violence and Absent Protection”, Euro-Med Monitor highlighted the outburst of violence against Jordanian women, where the country recorded 21 cases of female murders – a three-time increase compared to 2018 which saw seven murders only.

In the same year, 6,965 women fell victims of violence, 810 were able to get aid from the five battered women shelters belonging to the Ministry of Social Development while the rest, especially who live in the remote areas, were marginalized and consequently left to face more violence.

The report stresses that the social realty in Jordan forces battered women to stay silent which makes them think that reporting won’t help them or that their fate will be unknown in relation to their protection and rights. Further, women fear the reaction of their oppressors. Such fear and reluctance may necessarily put them in more danger, especially when violence causes serious injuries, and threatens their lives.

The woman protection system the Jordanian government has introduced puts in considerable efforts to hear the complaints of women and ensure their rights to judicial and social protection. Still, developing and adopting more effective and practical measures is highly needed by ensuring their protection through teaching and training them, so they could get back to their normal lives.

The National Survey, which is conducted to measure the extent of violence against women, does not include married women, 50-year-old-women who have been married before, or 15-year-old unmarried girls. Consequently, about one million unmarried women are excluded from the survey.

“The Jordanian Constitution is still incapable of resolving the phenomenon of violence against women,” Omar Ajlouni, Euro-Med Monitor’s legal advisor. “That is because the Jordanian Constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, language, or religion, but it does not address gender-based discrimination.”

Ajlouni adds that “The Jordanian law criminalizes some forms of violence committed against women, where it did not stipulate the imposition of penalties for ‘sexual harassment’, and only imposed penalties on ‘sexual assault’. Local reports suggested high rates of sexual harassment in workplaces by more than 42%”.

"Despite the fact that the government amended the law and submitted a proposal to the House of Representatives to add the phrase ‘sexual harassment’ and some other relevant amendments, the House Work Committee deleted the phrase, attributing it to a lack of recognition of the prevalence of the phenomenon of harassment, especially at workplaces and its impact on the withdrawal of women from the labor force”.

Based on the report, Euro-Med Monitor recommends:

  • The Jordanian Parliament to enact legislations and laws that guarantee adequate protection for all women in a manner that preserves their safety and dignity. These laws should include strict penalties to deter attempts to abuse women, violate their dignity, and threaten their lives.
  • The Judiciary to play a role in resolving conflicts arising from cases of domestic violence.
  • Jordanian women to be empowered economically in order to engage with the society and combat poverty, which is a major cause for the increase of violence against women.