AMMAN — Around 7,000 cases of domestic violence have been reported to the Family Protection Unit of the Public Security Department (PSD) since the beginning of the year.
In a statement made available to The Jordan Times, the unit’s director, Fakhri Qatarneh, expected the number to double by the end of this year.
“Women and children, the two segments of society that are usually the victims of domestic violence, are a lot more aware of their rights, and are thus less afraid to speak up,” said Qatarneh.
The Family Protection Unit was established in 1998 and it dealt with 275 cases in its first year. Last year, however, the unit said it dealt with more than 11,000 cases.
A woman, who reported her husband to the unit last year, agreed to speak on condition of anonymity to The Jordan Times.
“I had only been married for six months when my husband started hitting me. It was seemingly normal for him to hit me because that was common in his family. This went on for three months. One day, he was so mad and I was afraid for my life, so I locked myself in the bathroom and called the police as my friend had previously advised.”
The husband was detained for two months and was “only released after signing a pledge" not to hit her again, the woman said, adding that there were no further incidents following his release.
The National Council for Family Affairs has attributed the reason for domestic violence to the belief of45 per cent of Jordanians that a man “lightly hitting his wife is an acceptable act”. Another 40 per cent believe that the “disciplinary beating” of children is “acceptable” as well.
“Such beliefs, disguised under religion and traditions, make women and children vulnerable to violence. If you speak to some women who were victims, they will tell you they ‘deserved’ that beating,” said Jannat Nsour, a psychiatrist at the unit who specialises in treating traumatised victims of domestic violence.
“Many also do not believe in domestic rape. They think that a man is entitled to his wife’s body. Those are the kinds of beliefs that are the real reason behind domestic violence," Nsour said.
Qatarneh said that each year, the unit raises awareness and reaches around 350,000 citizens. “We cannot punish perpetrators until someone reports them. It is important that victims know they can always come to us,” he concluded.