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Jordan: UN expert calls for further measures to eradicate violence against women

AMMAN (24 November 2011) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo urged the Government of Jordan to adopt new measures to further promote equality and non-discrimination for women in the country on all fronts, as an essential step to eradicating violence against women.

“A purely legal or programmatic approach will not be sufficient to achieve women’s equality, given the traditional roles that the majority of them have conventionally undertaken,” stressed Ms. Manjoo at the end of her 14-day visit to Jordan, the first one by the independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate violence against women, its causes and consequences.

The Special Rapporteur said that “women need to be provided with opportunities and also an enabling environment to achieve equality of results,” and called for special measures such as additional quotas, positive action or preferential treatment to advance women's integration into education, the economy, politics and employment.

“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, recalling the Royal Committee on Constitutional Review’s decision not to accept constitutional amendments to include 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% of the labour force in the country,” Ms. Manjoo noted. “More incentives are needed to increase the employment of women within the private sector, and to create responsive environments to encourage them to enter this sector. Such measures will encourage women to make career choices based on their real interests, and importantly the development needs of Jordan.”

The rights expert drew special attention to the issues of sexual harassment and sexual violence, and other manifestations of violence against women. “Despite interviewees stating that this is not a problem in the country, it is necessary to acknowledge that sexual violence and sexual harassment occur both within and outside the family in every society,” she stressed.

For the UN Special Rapporteur, “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.”

“I would like to reiterate the need for holistic solutions which address both the individual empowerment of women, and also the social, economic and cultural barriers that are a reality in the lives of women,” the independent expert said. “Empowerment must be coupled with social transformation to address the systemic and structural causes of inequality and discrimination, which most often lead to violence against women.”

Ms. Manjoo will present a comprehensive report with her final findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2012.

Ms. Rashida Manjoo (South Africa) was appointed Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences in June 2009 by the UN Human Rights Council, for an initial period of three year. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. .Ms. Manjoo is also a Professor at the Department of Public Law at the University of Cape Town.

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11637&LangID=E

For additional information on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, please visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/SRWomen/Pages/SRWomenIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights Country Page – Jordan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/JOIndex.aspx

For press inquiries please contact Jumana Mustafa, UNDP Jordan (+962 6 530 0499, ext. 208 / jumana.mustafa@undp.org) or write to vaw@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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