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New projected shelter to house women under threat over ‘family honour’

‘Facility can receive maximum of 50 women’

By Rana Husseini - Dec 03,2016 - Last updated at Dec 03,2016

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AMMAN — Jordan will open a shelter for women whose lives are in danger for reasons related to “family honour” by the end of the year, official sources said on Saturday.

“The legislation pertaining to the shelter was published in the Official Gazette last week. Hopefully by the end of the year, a building will be designated and will begin operation,” said Mohammad Ensour, the director of the Human Rights and Family Affairs Department at the Ministry of Justice.

As it stands now, any woman whose life is in danger for reasons related to family honour and the authorities know about her is placed at the women’s correctional facility by the administrative governor in what is termed as “protective custody”.

Many of these women spend indefinite periods that could sometimes exceed 10 years without any charge and they cannot leave without the administrative governor’s permission, according to activists.

An average of 30 women could be imprisoned at one point in time, and on some occasions, they are bailed out by male relatives only to be killed “to cleanse the family’s honour”, activists have said.

Activists have been urging the government for years to open a special facility that would house these women and provide them with safety and freedom.

“We realise that these women deserve a better place to stay in than prison, and that is why we are opening a shelter for them that will house a maximum of 50 women,” Ensour told The Jordan Times.

He added that another reason for establishing the shelter is the Kingdom’s commitment to human rights conventions and clauses that stipulate finding an alternative protection method for women whose lives are in danger.

The facility will be managed by the Ministry of Social Development in cooperation with the administrative governor and the Family Protection Department affiliated with the Public Security Department (PSD), according to Ensour.

Meanwhile, Director of Social Protection at the Ministry of Social Development Moawiah Massadeh said the house will be protected by the PSD and there will be policewomen present.

Massadeh told The Jordan Times that women with criminal record and ones who have often been detained at the women’s correctional and rehabilitation facility will be excluded.

“The shelter will mainly receive new cases, mostly of women who are absent from home, and anyone wanting to visit them will need a special security permission,” Massadeh said.

He added that “the women will remain in the shelter until their life is no longer under any threat and will be released by an administrative governor order”.

“The women will be provided with social, psychological and entertainment support as well as good living conditions,” Massadeh explained.

Around 20 women are murdered annually for reasons related to family honour in Jordan.

Currently, there are three entities that house abused women and children in Jordan.

The Family Reconciliation Centre (FRC), which was inaugurated by Her Majesty Queen Rania in 2007, operates 24 hours a day and can house between 35 to 50 women and 36 children.

Another FRC branch was opened in Irbid in March 2015. It also houses around 80 women and children.

The FRC offers social, psychological, family, legal, health and religious counselling for women, children and men.

The third shelter is run by the Jordanian Women’s Union that opened in 1999 in the capital’s Jabal Hussein area and serves abused women and children.

The facility can accommodate up to 20 women at a time, along with their children, and trains them in skills such as computer, technology, cooking, tailoring and hairdressing. 

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