Statistics, funding hamper efforts to deal with domestic violence

Part 3

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AMMAN — Domestic violence is an issue prevalent globally, and each case is unique in its situation. However, the shared geographical, cultural, religious, and legal backgrounds of a specific region influence how domestic violence is dealt with. اضافة اعلان

In Jordan, organizations aiming to end domestic violence share the hardships posed by these backgrounds. 

Studies have shown that Jordanian women face several economic and social challenges.

However, when it comes to domestic violence and the numbers around it, organizations could not share accurate statistics due to a lack of reports, studies, and databases present that would allow us to indicate its prevalence on a national level.

“A number that shows a national average of domestic violence against women doesn’t exist. Only during the COVID-19 pandemic were some statistics by some parties issued. They show that the percentage of domestic violence increased by 30 percent from those who either went to the Family Protection Unit or to the justice department,” said Enaam Asha, a Solidarity Is Global Institute (SIGI) consultant lawyer. 

“It is one of the loopholes of the system,” she added. 

The numbers consistently announced by specialized departments such as the Family Protection Department or the Ministry of Social Development only represent the shallow depth of a deeply troubled sea. 

“Internationally; usually, statistics only represent the first layer of what is actually underneath. Whether it was child abuse or abuse against women and men,” Iman Aqrabawi, a Jordan River Foundation intervention services manager, told Jordan News

According to Aqrabawi, many of cases of violence go unreported, and many of the survivors are hesitant to get help or report their issues due to reasons mentioned in previous articles in this series.

“Several survivors decide not to report or file a complaint. They come in to release pressure and to brainstorm substitutes to their violent reality. A lot of women never come back (to the organization), and some come back after a year or more with a solid decision to report and end the relationship,” Aqrabawi added. 

Public Security Directorate spokesperson, Col. Amer Sartawi, spoke with Jordan News about the matter, saying that “we don’t have an issue or a phenomena of domestic violence; but do we deal with cases like this daily? Yes, daily in different areas and at different locations. It’s not a phenomena and it’s not wide spread. It’s not that one area has more than another.”

The Family Protection Unit deals with each case in complete confidentiality. First and foremost, they aim to de-escalate and fix the family’s dilemma and not to distance or break the family up by only pursuing legal action when severe harm is caused, Sartawi said.

“Our goal is not to go to courts or to make the issue bigger or to go to governors: We care about bringing stability back to the family and fixing the issues,” Sartawi said. 

“We deal with each case according to its needs — if it needs social follow-up or legal action. When we get a case, we conduct a social study through employees from the family protection staff, social workers, and mental and (physical) health examiners. A meeting is conducted with the family, the father, the mother, and the kids. Based on the findings, we decide how to deal with the case,” he added.

Protocols for organizations when they receive a new report of a domestic violence incident are relatively similar. However, some organizations offer multidimensional services, like mental and emotional support, economic support, self-empowerment services, and legal consultations and representations pro bono. 

According to Aqrabawi and Asha, to be able to cover a wider geographical area, all of these organizations form partnerships with lawyers, centers, and other organizations to help reach as many people as possible, 
However, even with these multidimensional services, Jordanian women and Jordanian organizations still face a significant challenge. There’s an overload of cases, they said. 

While there’s no easy way to fix the scenario, the current state is troubling, causing many to feel hopeless and wonder how it feels to walk in their shoes.
“Violence is like cancer. It’s accumulated and needs a long-term treatment process. Usually, when the police get involved, it’s a powerful intervention that might end the physical abuse but wouldn’t necessarily end mental and emotional abuse,” Aqrabawi said.

However, reporting does not necessarily mean getting help. Even with the pressure Jordanian women have to face in terms of a culture that discourages reporting, fearing their abuser, economic dependency, and self-sacrifice for the sake of their children, if they decide to go ahead and report their abuse, they might find themselves placed on a waiting list. 

Due to the limited funding, resources, and the overload of cases, organizations like the Jordan River Foundation, said they were forced to create a waiting list system and outsource their services to other partners.

“We try to take all the cases that come to us, we dealt with 3,000 cases last year, but some will have to be put on the waiting list. So we refer them to other organizations. But we always have shortages, especially in the area of economic empowerment and psychological support,” said Aqrabawi.

“So, cases are forced to be on the waiting list until their turn is up, and as long as they’re on the waiting list, we are not stopping the violence,” she added.
This sentiment was shared by SIGI, who are facing many challenges, including geographical distance to funding and resources, causing many women to not have access to these organizations. 

This is due to their funds restricting them from covering a wide geographical area. “The geographical placement of women organizations is bad since the concentration is in Amman and the big cities. The more you’re further away from those places, the less likely you find a free support service for those women like free legal representation or free psycho-social support,” Asha said.

Another issue that’s been observed is the lack of national support for these organizations. Aqrabawi and Asha both shared that their organization, similarly to others, are almost solely dependent on international financiers. 

According to Aqrabawi, this is due to the considerable pressure the Ministry of Social Development faces due to a limited annual budget, staff shortages, and lack of resources. In addition to almost nonexistent support from the private sector.

“We as JRF … try to help and assist the government by providing capacity building for the staff. The government has more challenges such as staff shortages which impact the quality of the services,” Aqrabawi said. “The Ministry of Social Development hands out a specific amount annually.” 

“The government rarely provides financial support to the organizations. The funds are provided by international donors. The Ministry of Social Development provides small financial support between JD300-500 occasionally,” Asha said. “This makes you question the social responsibility.”

In addition to all of these challenges, the interviewees mentioned the importance of expanding on social support from the private sector and providing more affordable mental health support services that are mostly only afforded by the elite. 

The interviewees said that the Ministry of Education should also improve educational opportunities for the less fortunate. They need to update their educational curriculums to include domestic violence, its consequences and to add the morals and values that contrast with it from the youngest age of kindergarten students to university students. 

Rehabilitation programs that target abusers and reform are also an essential part of ensuring that domestic violence prevention is highlighted rather than protection only.

Awareness of virtual abuse is also essential to protecting society from domestic abuse, said the interviewees.

A social effort can only compact these issues; instead of the current scattered and limited attempts, the private and public sector, in addition to the people themselves, have to collaborate to put an end to violence against women.

Jordan News contacted the Ministry of Social Development and the Family Protection Unit with questions a month prior to publishing, however neither returned with comments.

Jordan News also contacted the Ministry of Education and received no answer.

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