Friday, November 25, 2011

Jordan: Jordan must act to end violence against women

Jordan must take further steps to eradicate violence against women and ensure gender equality, an independent United Nations human rights expert said today.

Rashida Manjoo, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, wrapped up a two-week visit to the Middle East country with a warning to authorities that a purely legal or programmatic approach will not be sufficient given that so many of Jordanian women have followed traditional roles.

"Women need to be provided with opportunities and also an enabling environment to achieve equality of results," she said in a statement issued in Amman, the capital.

Ms. Manjoo called for special measures, such as quotas and preferential treatment, to integrate women in the economy, employment, politics and education.

"The explicit prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex and gender in the constitution would not only give women a practical tool to challenge inequality more effectively, but would also serve to educate and raise awareness among the Jordanian society as a whole," she said, noting the decision of a royal constitutional review committee to not accept constitutional amendments to include reference to discrimination on the basis of gender.

"Jordan has come a long way in terms of educational achievements for women and girls. Unfortunately, despite this achievement, they only comprise 14 per cent of the labour force in the country," she added, urging the introduction of more incentives to boost job opportunities for women in the private sector.

In her statement Ms. Manjoo also spotlighted the issues of sexual harassment and sexual violence. She noted that while many of the people she spoke to during her visit said these were not problems in Jordan, "it is necessary to acknowledge that sexual violence and sexual harassment occur both within and outside the family in every society."

She stressed that "the fact that certain subjects might be considered taboo within a society that largely describes itself as traditional, conservative, patriarchal and tribal might explain women''s silence with regard to these manifestations of violence."

Ms. Manjoo, who has served as Special Rapporteur since August 2009, reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. She serves in an unpaid and independent capacity.