Amnesty International: Jordan's Administrative Detention of Women Must Stop

Published October 24th, 2019 - 07:44 GMT
Heba Morayef, AI's MENA regional director. (Facebook/@ Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI))
Heba Morayef, AI's MENA regional director. (Facebook/@ Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI))
Amnesty calls for end to administrative detention of women for ‘protection’.

Women's administrative detention under the pretext of protection against violence from family members, and in some cases murder, should come to an end in Jordan, human rights organisation Amnesty International (AI) said on Wednesday. 

AI's call was made during a press conference to announce the launch of a report by the organisation titled "Imprisoned Women, Stolen Children, Policing Sex, Marriage and Pregnancy in Jordan", which was held at the Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI) offices in Amman. 

The AI report stated that, despite the opening of Amneh Safe House for women at risk, "which is a significant step", more action is needed.

"Jordanian authorities must stop colluding with an abusive male ‘guardianship’ system to control women’s lives and limit their personal freedoms,” said the AI report.

“Over the past several years, the government has adopted several important reform measures to address gender-based violence, including the opening of Amneh Safe House for women were, but the time has now come to end the detention and ill-treatment of women simply for disobeying their male guardian or transgressing gender norms," Heba Morayef, AI's MENA regional director was quoted as saying in an AI statement.

AI interviewed a total of 121 people in Jordan between June 2018 and October 2019 for the report, according AI legal adviser Lauren Aarons.

The organisation also met with 10 government officials in February 2019 and shared key research findings with the prime minister, said Aarons at the press conference.

The response of the prime minister’s office to AI said 149 women are currently in administrative detention, and 1,259 women had been released from administrative detention during the first six months of 2019, she added.

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“They are detained for a number of reasons, including being “absent” from home without their male guardian’s permission," said Aarons. 

The prime minister’s office told AI that 85 women have been administratively detained so far in 2019 for zena (adulterous relations), but denied that women were ever imprisoned for “absence”, unless they were also suspected of an additional offence, according to Aarons.  

"Simply put — putting a woman in ‘protective custody’ without her consent is a violation of human rights, including the right to be free from arbitrary detention," Aarons stressed.

The report stated that the opening of Amneh Safe House is a “positive step” that appears to have resulted in fewer women being detained in so-called “protective custody” and shows the political will to protect women’s rights.  

“What is needed now is a comprehensive review of laws and policies to ensure women are trusted to make free decisions about their sexual and reproductive lives, rather than being criminalised, punished and marginalised,” said Morayef. 

SIGI Executive Director and former minister Asma Khader said: "Women have the right to make their own decisions about their lives and we need to work on the social beliefs that prevent women from controlling their own lives."

At the same time, Khader added during the press conference, the government is responsible for "ensuring the safety and protection of women in our society, which includes opening more safe houses for women whose lives are in danger". 

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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