Why do we need gender sensitive services for women seeking justice?
Despite the significant gains in women’s rights in Jordan, there is still much work to be done; especially concerning gender sensitivity in institutions offering legal assistance (Husseini, 2010). For instance, a study by UN WOMEN (2015) found that 61% of a sample of judges, prosecutors and lawyers acknowledged that women face challenges in legal institutions because of their gender. These challenges were reported to be mainly due to a lack of specific procedures for dealing with violence against women (VAW) and the knowledge and attitudes regarding women’s vulnerabilities.
When it comes to seeking legal assistance, an analysis on the nature of the disputes in court revealed significant gender differences. For example, women are more likely to report Personal Status Law disputes, such as child custody, divorce, alimony, etc. On the other hand, women are discouraged to make these disputes public and are usually doing it without the support of their families, putting them in an even more vulnerable situation
Furthermore, women who suffer gender-based violence, and seek support from police and/or other institutions, are in a higher state of vulnerability. In addition, given the fact that the staff of public and formal institutions are often male dominated and lack the necessary training to deal with these cases, women may feel threatened or scared to file complaints.
These discrepancies do not occur because the laws in Jordan are overtly discriminatory. In fact, the Jordanian Constitution states that “all shall be equal before the law”. Nevertheless, there is still much room for improvement, such as enabling gender-sensitive services by conducting proper training (through a gender perspective) of police and court staff , ensure that procedures and policies are being implemented, and promote a change in knowledge and attitudes regarding women who seek the support of formal legal services, especially those who are victims of violence.
Husseini, R. (2010). Jordan. In Kelly, S. &Breslin, J. (eds),Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid Resistance (pp. 1-30). New York, NY: Freedom House. Retrieved from https://www.freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/inline_images/Jordan.pdf
Prettitore, P. S. (2013). Gender and Justice in Jordan; Women, Demand and Access. MENA knowledge and learning quick notes series, 107.World Bank. Retrieved from https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/20561/837220BRI0Box30ge0note0series0QN107.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
UN WOMEN. (2015). Strengthening the Jordanian Justice Sector’s Response to Violence Against women. Retrieved from http://www2.unwomen.org/-/media/field%20office%20jordan/attachments/publications/2016/2/unwomenstrengthening%20the%20jordanian%20justice%20sectors%20response%20to%20cases%20of%20vaw.pdf?vs=4139