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Only 3% of gender-based violence victims would seek police help — study

By Rana Husseini - Feb 28,2016 - Last updated at Feb 29,2016

AMMAN — Only 3 per cent of victims of gender-based violence would seek support from the police after experiencing violence, a local study revealed on Sunday.

The study said societal pressures to reject claims of violence against women persist within the justice system. 

Other challenges in the management of victims' complaints, according to the study, include the lack of standard operating procedures and the uneven understanding of women’s vulnerabilities.

The findings were revealed in a study titled "Strengthening the Jordanian Justice Sector's Response to Cases of Violence against Women", released on Sunday by UN Women in a press conference at Amman's Landmark Hotel. 

“One in three women in Jordan has been a victim of physical violence at least once since the age of 15, and nearly one in 10 women has experienced sexual violence,” UN Women Jordan Representative Giuseppe Belsito told reporters. 

Providing justice for the victims of violence is not only a core legal principle but also the first step to build a fairer and more equal society, he said. 

“As UN Women, we stand ready to support those who are at [the] forefront of this process, building the capacity of the justice sector to ensure predictable and timely assistance to the victims and easing their difficult journey of recovery,” the UN official stressed. 

Developed in collaboration with the Arab Women Legal Network (AWLN), the study analysed how the justice sector currently responds to cases of violence against women, and how survivors of violence perceive and experience seeking legal redress through the Jordanian justice system, said Judge Ihsan Barakat, an AWLN member.

“We want to use the study to understand the reasons why women victims of domestic violence do not resort to the justice system for help and what we can do to encourage them to seek their rights,” she said.

The study revealed that the sample of judges, prosecutors and lawyers interviewed do not regard violence against women as a systemic issue, Barakat noted.

She added that the survey also focused on the knowledge, attitudes and subjective norms, and environmental factors driving justice sector personnel’s actions on these cases and associations between these factors.

AWLN Secretary General Hadeel Abdul Azeez explained that the study consisted of interviews with victims of gender-based violence to assess their experience in the justice sector, as well as interviews with 168 justice sector personnel.

This pilot project does not aim to create a large volume of data but rather to shed light on areas that needed to be addressed, she said.

“In line with the current legislative framework, judges appear more cautious when dealing with cases involving sexual violence,” Abdul Azeez said. 

The study recommended introducing and mainstreaming comprehensive procedures for filing and receiving complaints, and handling cases in the justice sector, which are expected to improve the safety of women making complaints, she added. 

Other suggestions from the study included improving the information about complaint procedures available to women, “because it is expected to significantly reduce their perceived powerlessness and vulnerability when resorting to legal institutions”, according to Abdul Azeez.

 

The study also recommended addressing gaps in the knowledge, skills and attitudes of all justice sector personnel, she said.

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