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To the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Protect the lives and physical integrity of women and girls by:

  • Examining and amending all legislation that in intent or effect discriminates against women and girls to ensure compliance with international human rights standards, including gender-neutral statutes related to adultery and premarital sex.;
  • Repealing in full penal code article 340 (providing a reduced sentence for a male who kills a female relative engaged in illicit sex);
  • Applying penal code article 98 (providing a reduced sentence for someone committing a crime in a “fit of fury”) in a manner that is gender-neutral and that does not presume “fury” or “bad acts” in cases involving alleged “honor” crimes;
  • Repealing legal provisions that allow family members to drop charges for “honor” crimes;
  • Repealing laws that condition a woman’s release from detention or prison on her being released to a male relative;
  • Ensuring that women who are detained or in prison can be released on their own recognizance and that they are fully protected after their release;
  • Ensuring that all individuals in positions of de facto authority, including tribal or local leaders who endorse or tolerate “honor” crimes and other violence against women or girls, are penalized in an effective and appropriate manner; and
  • Continuing to endorse, through radio, print, and other media, the government’s support for women’s and girls’ rights to equality in all aspects of their public and private lives, including freedom from cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.

Train police to prevent and investigate “honor” crimes more effectively and humanely by:

  • Establishing, from the top down, a commitment to pursue “honor” crimes on a par with all other violent crimes—that is, to eliminate discrimination in the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of “honor” crimes and attacks;
  • Collecting and disseminating more reliable data on the number of “honor” crimes committed and attempted each year;
  • Investigating and prosecuting persons who threaten to harm female family members for dishonoring the family;
  • Recruiting and training female police officers to investigate crimes of domestic violence, including “honor” killings;
  • Establishing mandatory police training on crimes of domestic violence, and commissioning experts in this area to modify police attitudes and teach relevant skills;
  • Securing the cooperation of state and local authorities to ensure adequate economic and political support for the training and its implications; and
  • Prohibiting the police and forensic doctors from conducting or threatening to conduct virginity exams of women without their informed consent (consent given with the full knowledge of the purpose and risks of the procedure and the alternatives).

Increase judicial responsiveness to the problem of “honor” crimes by:

  • Providing training and instruction to judges on the narrow limits of the “fury” defense;
  • Providing specialized training for certain prosecutors in each region to try cases of violence against women, including “honor” crimes. These prosecutors should be responsible for handling cases of violence against women in all the trial courts in their district; and
  • Training prosecutors responsible for cases of violence against women to eliminate gender discrimination in the handling of these cases and to recognize the serious and criminal nature of gender-based violence, including “honor” crimes.

Provide refuge for women threatened with “honor” killing by:

  • Creating adequate and accessible shelters for victims of domestic violence, including for women who have been the victims of “honor” crimes or who are at risk of such violence, and their dependent children;
  • Making residence at such shelters a strictly voluntary option for women;
  • Ensuring that the shelters do not function as remand homes or serve any custodial, punitive, or reformatory purpose; and
  • Ensuring that programs at the shelters provide legal assistance and counseling services for women.

Increase information services to women at risk by:

  • Helping to establish and widely publicize telephone hotlines for women victims of violence in all major cities, operated by trained staff who can offer basic counseling and refer women to specialized service providers and shelters.

Enhance overall government response and public education on “honor” crimes by:

  • Maintaining reliable national statistics on the incidence, nature, and circumstances of “honor” killings and other types of violence against women, including rates of prosecution, conviction, and sentencing—specifically the nature of punishment.

To the United Nations

  • The secretary-general of the United Nations and the United Nations high commissioner for human rights should ensure that all United Nations agencies operating in Jordan pay particular attention to the issue of violence against women and develop programs and strategies designed to curb these abuses and promote accountability; and
  • The United Nations Development Program, in conjunction with the Jordanian government and nongovernmental organizations, should design and implement service programs for women victims of sexual and other violence, including legal literacy, legal aid, counseling, shelter, and job training programs.

To the World Bank, Other International Lending Institutions, and Governments

Given the high priority that the World Bank has put on addressing human development and social protection in Jordan (as per the recent Country Assistance Strategy), the Bank is particularly well-situated to promote constructive and sustainable reforms, to assist in meeting the needs of women victims of violence, and to improve women’s status in Jordanian society.

  • In the next reassessment of its Country Assistance Strategy, the World Bank should give explicit priority to developing an effective policy on sexual and domestic violence. Sustainable development would be enhanced by progress on women’s rights to equality and freedom from sexual and domestic violence are protected. Bilateral donors participating in the next consultative group annual donor meeting convened by the World Bank should also press these concerns;
  • The World Bank should explore possibilities for pilot projects in conjunction with existing nongovernmental organizations aimed at assisting and protecting rural and urban women from gender-based violence; and
  • International lending institutions should make it a priority to provide financial support to nongovernmental organizations and the Jordanian government for the provision of basic services for women victims of violence, including medical care, counseling, and legal aid.

To the Donor Community

Bilateral donors, including Japan, the European Union, and the United States, should:

  • Use their influence to encourage Jordan to adopt the recommendations outlined above. They should raise the issue of the Jordanian government’s inadequate response to the problem of violence against women at high level meetings and through their embassies in Jordan;
  • Provide assistance for programs to provide basic services for women victims of violence. These services should include women’s shelters, medical care, counseling, and legal aid, which are necessary to encourage and enable women to come forward and seek safety from and justice for domestic violence, including “honor” crimes;
  • Support programs that seek to review and reform existing laws to ensure that they are consistent with Jordan’s obligations under CEDAW and other international human rights standards, do not discriminate on the basis of sex or gender, and afford women and girls equality of access and opportunity;
  • Encourage Jordan to repeal article 340 and to restrict article 98 of the penal code from being used as a defense for crimes of “honor”; and
  • Provide funds to the Jordanian government to train police, prosecutors, doctors, and judges to eliminate gender bias in handling cases of violence against women.

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>April 2004