Jordan: HRH Princess Basma inaugurates national conference to Combat Violence against Women Print E-mail
 Wednesday November 26, 2008

Jordan says ‘No to Violence against Women’

HRH Princess Basma views artwork by schoolgirls during a national activity on Tuesday to mark global efforts to end violence against women (Petra photo)

By Rana Husseini

AMMAN - “No to Violence against Women" was the message conveyed by local officials, activists, students and artists during a national activity on Tuesday to mark global efforts to end abuse against women.

The message was transmitted through artistic activities that included a short documentary highlighting the plight of abused women in Jordan through personal interviews, as well as art work by reflecting their feelings about violence against women.

The activities were part of the opening of the national conference on the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, “Towards National Participatory Planning to Combat Violence against Women", inaugurated by HRH Princess Basma.

Organised by the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW) and supported by UN agencies, the event also included a 40-minute play called "Shedding Blood", which addresses the problem of so-called honour crimes in Jordan. Written by Jordanian author Jamal Abu Hamdan, the theatrical production was performed by the National Centre for Culture and Performing Arts (PAC) and directed by PAC Director General Lina Attel.

The play revolves around a divorced woman oppressed by her male family members who doubt every move she makes. In the end, her father and older brother decide to kill her because she speaks to a man and assign the task to the younger brother.

The drama then goes into the mindset of the younger brother and the mental conflict he has to live with, showing how the killer is also a victim of ancient traditions and social pressure.

Annually, around 20 women are reported murdered in so-called honour crimes in the Kingdom. The total number of similar murders this year stands at 16. Globally, the UN estimates that around 5,000 women are killed yearly for reasons related to family honour.

In her opening address, JNCW Secretary General Asma Khader said it was time to work with legislators and the government to draft laws that protect women from violence and toughen penalties for perpetrators of such crimes.

"We also expect our distinguished judiciary branch to ensure justice for women who are victims of violence and apply the rule of law," she added.

As it stands now, some defendants who murder their female relatives in the name of family honour could get a minimum of six months in prison if the court decides to invoke Article 98 of the Penal Code, which stipulates a minimum of three months and a maximum of two years in prison for a murder that is committed in a fit of fury caused by an unlawful act on the part of the victim.

Tuesday’s event marks the start of the annual 16-day campaign to end violence against women, which starts on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on December 10, Human Rights Day.

UN Resident Coordinator in Jordan Luc Stevens told the gathering that violence against women is a pervasive human rights violation, a public health crisis and an obstacle to equality, development, security and peace.

Combating all forms of violence against women remains a top priority for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, he noted.

"In February 2008, he launched a system-wide, multi-year campaign to eliminate violence against women and girls," Stevens said.

He added that significant work has been undertaken by a growing number of states, organisations and researchers to prevent and address violence against women, which resulted in increasing understanding of the nature and scope of violence against women and its impact on the victims and their communities.

The UN official also cited the Department of Statistics’ (DoS) 2007 Demographic and Health Survey, which revealed that one in five married women reported physical violence by their husbands, while 8 per cent reported sexual violence by their spouses.

He also said it was a worrying sign that around 90 per cent of women in the DoS study agree that a husband is justified in hitting his wife for at least one reason.

"We need to understand why, and again how we can use culturally sensitive approaches to address this," he said.