Domestic violence targets women, reasons vary

violence GBV
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A Jordanian girl was drowned by her father and brother in a pond near their house five years ago. More recently, a 39-year-old woman was sexually abused almost daily by her husband, but was advised by her parents to succumb to her husband.اضافة اعلان

Jordan has seen an increase in the cases of violence against women, which experts contend is a persistent phenomenon, although the motivation and causes vary and lenient laws against offenders are generally seen as an insufficient deterrent.

The Department of Statistics’ Population and Family Health Survey in 2017–2018, the only available figures, showed that one in every four married women was subjected to physical, sexual, or emotional violence.

Only 19 percent of married women were physically or sexually abused before asking for help, and that only 3 percent of them filed complaints, according to the survey.

Violence against women is a global problem, but more so in patriarchal societies, where men have the final saying in all family matters.

In Jordan, women enjoy a relative margin of freedom, unlike other third world countries. There are women Cabinet ministers, members of parliament, ambassadors, air force and commercial pilots, and professionals like doctors, engineers, lawyers, and judges.

A report in the Jordan-based Solidarity is Global Institute (SIGI) said that from the beginning of 2021 until January 23, 2022, there were 15 family murders, which had 16 female victims.

According to the Criminal Information Department’s criminal statistical report for 2020, there were 90 premeditated and intentional homicides, as well as nine fatal beatings. The report, however, did not detail the offenses committed against women or families.

A 23-year-old woman, who insisted on anonymity, said she saw her brother and father jointly asphyxiate her sister, drowning her in a pond on their property five years ago. She explained that the crime was committed after her sister turned down their request to marry a relative, telling them that she wanted to pursue higher education instead.

She claimed that police considered the case as accidental drowning at the time.

She told Jordan News that she, her other sister, and their mother are unjustifiably subjected to violence by male members of the family.

The woman explained that the three had contacted the Family Protection and Juvenile Department at one point, but the situation did not go well, as the father was hauled in and forced to sign a vow not to hurt them.

When they returned home, she said that her father was enraged by their act and barred them from leaving the house, beating them and their mother for several hours that day.

Another female victim of domestic abuse, a 39-year-old woman, said that she is continuously subjected to “sexual violence” by her husband because he believes he is exercising his right and she does not have the right to reject.

The Penal Code defines rape as “sexual intercourse with a female, other than his wife, without her consent, whether by coercion or threat or deception”.
According to the Criminal Information Department’s criminal statistical report for 2020, there were 90 premeditated and intentional homicides, as well as nine fatal beatings. The report, however, did not detail the offenses committed against women or families.
Filing a complaint against her husband, in her opinion, would not change anything, but only make matters worse. “This would be scandalous for me among my family and relatives,” she sighed.

“It may lead to me getting divorced, which means that I will lose the only source of money to me and my children,” she explained. She said she tried other options earlier, such as telling her parents, but they advised her to obey her husband.

Subsequently, she went to file a complaint, but the officer who met her at the security center advised her not to cause a family problem, unless she had a compelling reason. He allegedly told her that her husband “did not kill you, and you only have superficial wounds”.

Anaam Al-Asha, a SIGI advisor, said that domestic violence exists in all societies in various forms, but that there may be a peculiarity in the Arab world connected to the culture, social system, and family upbringing.

Until recently, it was legal for a husband to discipline his wife, and that such a broad definition could lead some to dare going as far as murder, Asha told Jordan News.

Other factors are related to social pressures, according to Asha, which include the isolation and anxiousness felt by many during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other reasons could be the increased unemployment, and female poverty in particular. She said all those factors generate psychological and social pressure on people, which ultimately result in violence.

She pointed out that the prevalence of violence has not increased, but that cases have become more visible thanks to social media exposure. She noted that the media itself could encourage the violence, in posts which see little censorship, including some which draw attention to aggressive characters and “bullying” models.

Asha said penalties under the Jordanian law are insufficient to prevent violence against women. She insisted that horrific crimes, which undermine the society’s security are supposed to have deterrent penalties, even if the female victim or her relatives waive their rights.

She pointed to civil society organizations being an essential auxiliary to official institutions, particularly those with a long history of community work and human rights advocacy. “Those institutions should be supported, not persecuted and accused of serving non-national goals,” she argued.

Psychologist Anas Ikhmaes told Jordan News in an interview that violence against women is nothing more than thoughts reinforced by societal conditions. One of the most fundamental reasons for this issue is Jordan’s economic predicament. He explained that the problem became increasingly visible when the right of women to work became a basic demand and duty at the level of Jordanian society as a whole, as this cultural shift appeared as a burden on men who were accustomed to a different situation, leading them to resort to violence to demonstrate their control.

He went on to say that the sudden spike in the number of violent crimes against women in a short period of time is also directly tied to social media platforms, which see the bullying of women’s bodies by people of all ages.

He pointed to TikTok as an example. He said the platform feeds ideas to children, adolescents, and even adults of both sexes about the female body and the limits of a woman’s role in society, so violence against women is not limited to men or adults, as there is psychological violence issued by women against women, sexual violence by teenagers, and physical violence up to murder, by various people.

Ikhmaes said that social media has a detrimental impact because it is utilized as an easy-to-use tool to promote toxic ideas, some of which are based on the freedom of anybody to violate women’s rights and cross boundaries.

He noted that the concept of electronic security in Jordan is still nascent, and that ideas shared among internet users subsequently manifest as violent conduct, which can only be prosecuted after the damage has been done.

He said that the persistence of this type of crime is proof of a flaw in the penalties, and underlines that they are insufficient deterrent to prevent the criminal from indulging in any form of violence, even verbal.

Ikhmaes said that awareness is the most important preventive measure to reduce cases of violence against women. But he added that awareness campaigns are not being implemented correctly by school and family in Jordan.

He said that other conditions such as the economic situation and social pressures have the greatest impact on people and thus push them to such actions. As a result, he said that the next step after raising awareness is to investigate the reasons of violence and address them thoroughly with the intention of gradually eliminating this phenomenon.

Hadeel Abdel Aziz, director of the Justice Center for Legal Aid (JCLA), said that violence against women is a widespread issue in all countries around the world, regardless of the strict legal legislation in place.

She said the phenomenon is widespread because many women fail to file complaints of abuse or harassment with the authorities, which allows perpetrators to escape punishment.

She pointed to a legal phenomenon that results in cases of violence being regarded as ordinary criminal cases, while crimes of domestic violence, which are dealt with through the Penal Code, appear as cases of minor abuse, or misdemeanors.

Abdel Aziz said the challenge in dealing with domestic violence is that it occurs in a private setting, which is the family setting, and thus identifying it is difficult if the victim does not come forward.

She said that the Family Protection and Juvenile Department provides what is known as social follow-up for those who do not wish to file complaints. But she added that the follow-up does not solve the problem because there are insufficient resources to monitor a large number of cases, in addition to the department having limited authority to intervene as long as the victim refuses to file a complaint.

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