2000 battered women resort to Dar Al-Wifaq annually
Fear of violence is a major hindrance to progress in any society, particularly if associated with a vital part of its existence, in this case, women. It is high time that the most important principle of human rights is upheld: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
Here, we report a story of a twenty year old girl, whose only fault was that she was born a female. This girl was rejected by her family, endured all sorts of torture for more than 20 years, beaten, shackled, locked up and starved until neighbors notified the Family Protection Department who freed and referred her to forensic medicine which documented more than 25 bruises all over her body.
In a judicial precedent, the court ruled that the family pay the girl financial compensation for the severe violence she was subjected to, according to legal activist Eva Abu Halaweh from MIZAN Law Group.
Commenting on the case, Abu Halaweh indicated that the girl stayed at a shelter for a period of time and then returned to her parent's house by her own will after undergoing rehabilitation and reintegration, noting that the girl needed some form of justice and hence the group filed a compensation claim on her behalf.
Although she did not wish to act on the ruling, the girl considered that compensating her with 3 thousand JOD is an establishment of the principle of compensation for family violence victims and the fact that parents should be held accountable for their actions.
2000 battered women are said to have resorted to Dar Al-Wifaq Al-Osari run by the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) this year. In this regard, Abu Halaweh blamed MoSD for the lack of an integrated national register that documents violence cases committed against women in Jordan, emphasizing that the existence of a specific figure for violence cases can help identify ways of response and management.
As the world celebrates the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25th under the theme "Break the silence on violence", there are still demands for more justice against violence.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, sent a message to all women of the world titled " From peace in the home to peace in the world: safe education for all", saying that "violence against women is a major obstacle to fulfilment of fundamental human rights. It is a direct threat to the lives and health of millions of girls and women. It is also a serious impediment to building inclusive, sustainable societies". This year the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is highlighting the negative ways in which such violence is prejudicial to girls’ and women’s education. Education is a non-negotiable human right. It is a prerequisite for full enjoyment of many other fundamental rights", she added.
Bekova also underscored that "school is the ideal place for gaining the confidence needed to grow and develop: it must be a safe haven for study. We cannot allow schools to be places of fear, violence and harassment".
MoSD Media Spokesperson, Fawwaz Al-Ratrout, indicated that 2000 cases of violence against women are reported each year through the social service offices run by the Ministry, noting that Dar Al-Wifaq alone deals with more than 900 cases annually.
"Combating violence against women has two dimensions; the preventive dimension through building awareness and enactment of legislation, and the protective dimension", added Ratrout, emphasizing the Ministry's strategy in combating gender-based violence.
Abu Halaweh and Ratrout both agreed that the most prevailing form of violence against women in Jordan is physical and is mostly domestic i.e. within the family. According to them, this is blamed on several elements including social norms whereby men have more authority over women be they sisters, wives or daughters.
"The Family Protection against Violence Law was endorsed in 2008 but has not been fully implemented since, particularly with regard to the provision that obligates health, educational, and social service providers to report cases of family violence", stated Abu Halaweh.
He further illustrated that the dilemma of this compulsory reporting is that it is not applied in practice for many reasons most importantly the lack of awareness by some professionals on this matter, aside from their fear of the consequences of reporting on the victim herself such as depriving her of health and educational services. Moreover, professionals are sometimes not fully trained in this area, not to mention the lawyers who are not familiar with laws regarding family violence victims consequently compromises the rights of the victims.
Abu Halaweh went on to say that we have already gone beyond the stage of silence and we are at a better stage of response thanks to media campaigns against this kind of violence, noting that the most prevailing form of violence perpetrated against women is physical which is associated with one form of discrimination against women. As she explained, women only report when the violence becomes physical despite the harshness of the verbal and emotional violence. Abu Halaweh reported a story of a young girl from a poor family who suffered the effects of early marriage as her husband repeatedly beat her and she was unable to procure a medical report of her condition because she could not afford the 50 JOD report cost and had no legal papers as they were held by her husband. Upon filing the report, she was referred to the Family Protection Department which followed a conciliatory approach to settle the dispute between the two spouses.
Dr Ratrout said that the Ministry deals with 4000 violence cases, half of which involve women and the other half children. Two new homes were established in Jordan, one family conciliation home in the north and another for victims of human trafficking, which are both related to women protection from violence and exploitation. Ratrout underscored that violence is unacceptable and criminalized by law, noting that victims seeking help are admitted in Dar Al-Wifaq until the resolution of the case in courts and a form of reconciliation is arranged between the victim and her family