AMMAN - Twenty-eight-year-old Amal is bullied by her alcoholic and drug-addicted husband almost on a daily basis.
The mother of a three-year-old child does not want to break up her family and is only seeking a peaceful solution to her quandary.
She resorted to the Women’s Complaint Office, which started operation in October 2008, but which was officially launched by HRH Princess Basma Wednesday.
Amal, whose name has been changed for privacy reasons, is one of 52 women who have already contacted the establishment seeking legal help and advice, according to Juliana Turjman, a social worker at the complaint office which is operated by the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW) and supported by Freedom House.
“Amal visited our office seeking help and we are currently examining her case to determine how to solve her problem and refer her to the proper institute for help,” said Turjman in a telephone interview.
Most of the calls or visits focused on the Citizenship Law, domestic abuse and labour matters, such as arbitrary dismissal and gender discrimination, according to Turjman.
Another woman who called the office recently is 30-year-old Shrouq (not her real name), a mother of three who has been married to a Syrian and is struggling to keep her children in school since the law does not recognise them as Jordanian citizens.
“Shrouq is one of many cases that reflect the difficult life faced by most Jordanian women married to foreigners,” Turjman told The Jordan Times.
She said the office is trying to help her and has started compiling data to find out the number of women who seek their help in cases related to the Citizenship Law.
Women calling the hotline for other problems are offered guidance and if their case does not fall within the jurisdiction of the complaint office, they are directed to other NGOs, Turjman added.
“The JNCW’s move in establishing the complaint office is of great importance and value since it represents an institutional commitment to combat many challenges including violence against women,” Princess Basma said at the official launch of the office on Wednesday.
She added that she hoped the complaint office would become a reference and a well-known entity for women to resort to when they are subjected to any form of abuse or discrimination.
“Thanks to this initiative, we can all join hands and take more positive steps towards helping women actively participate in their own society free from violence,” added the Princess, who is chairperson of the JNCW.
Princess Basma also announced that the JNCW will work to open more offices in its 50 branches across the Kingdom “so that women can feel safe, knowing that they can convey their complaints easily”.
The office will also be responsible for collecting national data on violence against women, issuing an annual report with its findings and enhancing women’s ability in solving their problems.
The goal is to formulate a national strategy that would determine what actions should be taken to eliminate violence against women.
In addition, it will work to provide an accurate annual statistics report on violence and discrimination against women and recommend solutions at the national level.
At yesterday’s launch, USAID Mission Director Jay Knott described the complaint office as “a milestone achievement” for women’s advancement in Jordan.
“Women’s issues are the core of development and cut across all sectors, including health, education, economic growth and governance. USAID strives to ensure that these issues are part of all the work we do in Jordan,” said Knott, noting that this has been true for all 60 years of the United States’ partnership with Jordan.
“We at USAID remain committed to continued cooperation with Princess Basma and all of the organisations and people who are working to advance women’s rights,” he added, praising the Princess’ contributions to the “economic, social and political advancement of women in Jordan”.
Freedom House representative Lama Khreis said her office decided to support the project following an evaluation study in 2007, which indicated there is an urgent need for such a service in Jordan.
“The majority of organisations and individuals we interviewed for the evaluation study unanimously agreed that such an office is a national need to help and guide women in need,” she said in her address at the gathering.
Women seeking guidance on various issues can call the Women’s Complaint Office toll free number 080022955, send a fax to its landline 5520395 or log onto the website firstname.lastname@example.org and send their complaints via e-mail.
The line will initially run for eight hours daily, expanding to 24 hours in the near future.