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Will Jordan reform and protect women?

Will Jordan reform and protect women?

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Life Women’s Rights Marginalized Groups

Tuesday 14 March 202303:05 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

لماذا لا تحمي الدولة الأردنيّة النساء؟

Only one day a year, women are showered with compliments and praise, and their achievements are displayed with pride and talked about by officials. Courses and workshops are held in honor of this day, as a tradition that’s followed even if it is without spirit or meaning.

What happens during this day raises questions about the rights that women have, and the reality they live in, and whether there are any legislations that guarantee their rights, or are they just ink on paper?

International Women's Day

Every year, the display of achievements stops, and the world returns to its usual self after the 8th of March, or "International Women's Day", which was originally adopted to make the world a better place for women, so that they can live in peace. However unfortunately it seems that this doesn’t happen in reality, with figures of the Tadamon (Sisterhood is Global Institute Jordan - SIGI) indicating that the number of victims of family murders in 2022 increased by 94% compared to 2021, from 18 to 35 victims. Of these, 60% targeted women and girls, while 40% were against children.

Murders are not the only crimes prevalent in the Jordanian kingdom. There are other crimes such as the administrative detention of women, which gives permission to the administrative governor to imprison women who are often victims of violence, under the pretext of protecting them and preserving their lives, according to Article (3) of the Crime Prevention Law. These female detainees are not allowed to leave prison unless their families pledge to no longer abuse or assault them and ensure their safety. These abuse victims held in ‘protective custody’ are detained with other female prisoners who have been sentenced to imprisonment on various charges.

According to statements by the director of the Juweideh Women's Reform and Rehabilitation Centre (JCRC), Colonel Muna Abu Odeh in 2021 to Al Ghad daily, the number of inmates at the center is 412 women, of whom 102 are administratively detained, of Jordanian and foreign nationalities, along with 116 judicial detainees, and 194 female convicts, including 19 who have been sentenced to death.

"She never cried. She was always laughing. For 15 years, the only time I ever saw her crying was a month before her death, after being subjected to psychological and sexual violence by her husband, all while being unable to file a complaint against him"

No protection for women

“She never cried. She was always laughing. For fifteen years, the only time I ever saw her crying was a month before her death”; With these words, Maysa (pseudonym) summarizes to Raseef22 what her close friend Marwa (pseudonym) experienced before her death, after being subjected to psychological and sexual violence at the hands of her husband, while being unable to file a complaint against him.

She says, "Her family was not on her side, especially after she failed high school, forcing her to marry a relative who said he loved her. She was 21 years old at the time". She started experiencing some health symptoms and was diagnosed with kidney failure, and her physical health began to deteriorate. Her husband did not accept this, and asked her to have children, which the doctors refused out of fear for her health.

Maysa, who lived the details of her friend's story, recounts that her friend’s husband used to abuse her verbally and sexually, until he finally divorced her and married another woman. She received no support from her family, and could not file any complaints for fear of being arrested in light of the blame she received from her family on a regular basis and her feelings of inadequacy due to her illness, until she died in that state a few days after their separation.

Raseef22 tried to contact the family to find out any additional details from them, or to verify the authenticity of the story, but they refused to provide any information, and the details of the story were confirmed by the victim's friends.

One in 4 married women is subjected to physical, sexual or emotional violence, i.e. 25.9%, while 19% of married women who have been physically or sexually abused by their husbands have sought help, and only 3% have filed complaints, according to the results of the Jordan Population and Family Health Survey (JPFHS) issued by the Department of Statistics (DOS) for the year 2017-2018.

Jordanian law gives the administrative governor the right to imprison women who are victims of violence, under the pretext of protecting them. Held in ‘protective custody’, they aren't allowed to leave unless their families pledge to no longer abuse them

Laws or customs?

In a previously published statement, the National Center for Human Rights confirms Jordan's ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and its publication in the Official Gazette in 2007. However, there are "challenges to women's rights, such as the existence of some discriminatory provisions in national legislation, such as the Penal Code, the Personal Status Law, the Nationality Law, the Civil Service System, and others.”

It points out that Jordanian women do not have equal opportunities in the executive, legislative and judicial authorities, and if they do, they are very meager, pointing to the need to amend legal texts that discriminate against women to become in line with the constitution and international standards.

Speaking to Raseef22, MP Suleiman al-Qallab explains that crimes are committed in all countries of the world, saying that "what is happening in Jordan is because of eastern customs, traditions and mentality" that resort to killing and violence on the grounds of honor.

He points out that most cases of administrative detention have come to protect women, as the law seeks to protect them in the event of a danger to them and their lives. He indicates that they are administrative precautions so that women aren’t exposed to danger or violence, pointing to the existence of positive discrimination towards women, such as the parliamentary quota, without which only a small number of women would have reached the council, as he described.

Al-Qallab stresses the role of Jordanian laws and legislation in protecting women and preserving their rights, despite the existence of societal abuses that are a result of the existing culture.

Statistics show that 1 in 4 married women is subjected to physical or sexual violence in Jordan, where there are discriminatory provisions against women in national legislation, such as the Penal Code, the Personal Status Law, and the Nationality Law

Women in the language of numbers

By reviewing a report issued in 2021 by the International Labor Organization (ILO), under the title, “Women managers in Jordan: ILO cautions against taking data out of context”, the labour market inclusion of women in Jordan remains amongst the lowest in the world, contrasting with education outcomes and university graduation rates, with women accounting for 53% of the country's total university graduates.

The report notes that these figures place the country 149th out of 153 countries in terms of women's labor force participation, “considerably below the global average for middle-low income countries.”

This may not seem strange if we know that the number of women who have held the title of “honorable” or “her Excellency", since the establishment of the first Jordanian government in 1921, is only 30 women in total. This seems strange, given that the 8th of March of each year becomes abuzz with handing women leadership positions in some institutions, "in honor" of them, or by gifting them flowers, when all women want is to be given equal rights with men and not to be undermined or looked down upon just because they are female.

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