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Shelter located for women under threat — Social Development Ministry

By Rana Husseini - Nov 29,2017 - Last updated at Nov 29,2017

Illustration by Mina Mohit

AMMAN — Ministry of Social Development (MoS) officials on Tuesday said a building has been located to house women whose lives are in danger due to reasons related to “family honour”.

“A special committee decided today to allocate a suitable building and the staff will be chosen and trained in December,” said the legal adviser of the MoS Ayesh Awamleh.

Awamleh’s announcement came during an event at the Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI) on “Violence against women and the regulations of the shelter that will house women whose lives are in danger”. 

Social Development Minister Hala Lattouf told The Jordan Times in a recent interview that the shelter is expected to be opened in March.

The government in August allocated JD1 million to start housing women whose lives are in danger instead of placing them in the women’s correctional and rehabilitation facilities for indefinite periods without any charges laid.

Raghda Azzeh, who will be the director of the shelter, said the building “is special and includes apartments for these women so that they would feel at home, not in prison”.

“Women will be supported with all kinds of daily life necessities such as food, clothes and recreational facilities,” Azzeh said. 

Azzeh added that a special committee will be in charge of running the shelter and will be routinely examining cases of the women admitted “so that cases of these women will not take a long time and they could leave and enjoy their lives once the danger is over”.

MoS officials have said recently that there are around “70 women who are in prison for administrative detention and the number could decrease or increase”.

 “We want to ensure that women who are in prison will have a better and safe life.  Staying in prison is a form of punishment not protection,” Awamleh told the gathering.

The regulations of the shelter, Awamleh added, are considered a “very positive and important step towards protecting Jordanian women and ensuring justice and equality”.

Awamleh stressed that women will “be admitted willingly to the shelter and it is a temporary stay until their case is resolved and we ensure that they will live in a safe environment when they leave”.

In the event that a woman, whose life is in danger, decides against staying at the house, Awamleh maintained, “then we will refer her to the civil society organisations that can help in this matter”.

He noted that the ministry is currently working on the by-law governing the sheltering in cooperation with the civil society organisations and will announce it to everyone once it is ready.

Executive Director of SIGI former minister Asma Khader stressed during the two-hour event the need for “the by-laws to ensure that women will have the freedom of mobility”.

“We welcome the establishment of this shelter because women have been imprisoned for indefinite periods without a crime and they were mixing with other inmates who have committed major offenses,” Khader told the gathering.

Currently, any woman whose life is in danger for reasons related to so-called family honour, and whose case is known to the authorities, 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 in the centre, sometimes exceeding 10 years, without any charges levelled against them. The women can not leave the facility without the administrative governor’s permission, according to activists.

Most of the women in the facilities are inmates held on cases such as rape, adultery, incest and for going missing from home, according to officials.

On some occasions, women were reported to have been killed once they are bailed by family members even after they had signed a guarantee not to inflict harm on them. 

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

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