Analysing the roots of violence
By: Dr. Muhammad F. Miqdadi *
For the sake of being proactive rather than reactive, we must attempt to analyse the roots of certain problems that we have been witnessing repeatedly in our society, which led to the building up of anger and negative perspectives within our society. This would be gravely dangerous, particularly if people started to believe that they are insecure, because after all we are not dealing with a random case here, but rather a community issue.
Although legislation helps to control and deter crimes in general, it is rather misleading to attribute societal crimes to deficiencies in legislation or its application.
Violent practices in society are always deep-rooted and cannot be overcome without trying to address the root cause of the problems, particularly those related to:
• Individuals, such as psychological factors, history of abuse, and alcohol and drug use.
• The person’s relationship with other people, keeping bad company for example.
• The social milieu, where people are living an environment with high unemployment rates, population density, or prevalence of drug abuse, pushing them into criminal behaviour.
• Prevalence of tolerance of violence, male supremacy over women and children or other cultural norms that support violence as a means of resolving conflicts or settling vengeance.
All of the above provide fertile soil for violence and harm against others.
Therefore, the attempt to reduce violent and criminal behaviour should not be associated only with the tightening of laws and their application, no matter how important general deterrence is, but should rather be focused on the means of prevention, such as providing psychological services as well as mental, social and economic rehabilitation. Thus, I believe that the family was and will remain the focus and basis for protecting society from negative behaviours.
There are no released figures on the recidivism rate in the Jordanian society, which could otherwise have given us an insight into the degree of our success in reforming and rehabilitating offenders. This leads us to other questions: How many of the detainees or inmates placed in rehabilitation and correction centres were provided with psychological counselling, rehabilitation services and economic and social empowerment, and how available are the psychological rehabilitation services? What about the perpetrators of misdemeanours related to infliction of harm to others or threats or breakage... etc? How are they dealt with in order to rehabilitate and monitor them since many perpetrators usually have a history of felonies or misdemeanours?
According to the figures of the Criminal Information Department for the year 2018, the crimes of grave harm, rape and indecent assaults are the second largest percentage of crimes committed in Jordan following theft. This calls for us, in all seriousness, to review the system of personal safety, and most importantly concentrating on prevention of crime and its recurrence. From a legislative point of view, I believe that misdemeanours related to intentional harm according to Article 52 of the Penal Code need to be reconsidered. This does not mean necessarily to increase the penalty, but rather to move towards a philosophy of rehabilitation of perpetrators of felonies and misdemeanours to prevent them from reoffending or worse yet to become criminals as is often the case. Sad incidents, such as the Zarqa story in which a husband gouged the eyes of his wife and many other murders that occurred before the very eyes of children and mostly within the family, are only examples of what happens when violent behaviour escalates because prevention and rehabilitation programs are non-existent.
It is true, the majority of the Jordanian society’s anger will not calm down by the execution or even stoning of the criminals who committed the crime against the 16-year-old child in Zarqa, which according to everyone and in the eyes of the law in Article 158 of the Jordanian Penal Code is deemed a crime of torture and a barbaric act that deserves the death penalty.
*Secretary General of the National Council for Family Affairs