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Um Saleh recovered from her broken ribs and nose long ago.
28 March, 2008

AMMAN - Um Saleh recovered from her broken ribs and nose long ago, but she still suffers from phantom pains every time she remembers the day her husband beat her .

The mother of four recalls how he methodically put on his steel-toed boots before approaching her, and her locking the door on the sleeping children ,

“I was afraid they would wake up, because I knew his thrashing would be one of the bad ones .”

Um Saleh told The Jordan Times that her “mistake” on that particular occasion was asking him if she could visit her family for the second time in the same week .

The 44-year old, who bears permanent emotional scars, no longer worries about her own safety since her abusive husband left to remarry nearly three years ago .

What keeps her up late at night, sometimes so anxious that she vomits, is the suspicion that her newlywed daughter is suffering the same fate .

“My daughter is not talking… but I know the signs and see her misery. I told her to bring her six-month- old son and come and live with me and not to care if people laugh at us as divorced mother and daughter. I want her to believe me that he will only get worse,” she said .

National network

It is women like these the “National Network to Combat Violence Against Women” is trying to reach .

The network, launched yesterday, will work under the umbrella of the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW), which is headed by HRH Princess Basma .

“Protecting the dignity of women and their safety is part of our culture and Islamic Sharia principles. Any effort in this direction is a translation of His Majesty King Abdullah’s vision for empowering women, increasing their participation, preventing discrimination against them and underlining their important role in family, society and public life,” Princess Basma said at the launch .

She explained that the network, “for achieving more results”, is the latest addition to the country’s national achievements over the past few years, as citizens have witnessed many public and private campaigns addressing this issue, which is a threat to “development, justice and equality ”.

The network, which will lobby for funds in the next state budget, includes NGOs, the Public Security Department, the National Council for Family Affairs, the National Centre For Human Rights, the Ministry of Social Development and religious experts .

“Every individual in society has a role to play towards rooting out the problem and this network will serve to bring together all entities involved in our goal to diminish women’s abuse,” JNCW Secretary General Asma Khader told The Jordan Times .

She pointed out that it will be necessary to acquaint the public with the new “Family Protection Law”, which was endorsed earlier this year .

The law, which imposes stiff penalties on violators like large fines and imprisonment of up to six months, gives the authorities the power to detain perpetrators of domestic violence for 24 hours “in order to protect the victim ”.

In addition, the court has the right to bar perpetrators from approaching “safe houses” where victims are sheltered in order to guarantee their safety .

Victims can also file for financial compensation in cases of physical harm or psychological abuse .

Khader said network meetings will begin early next month .

As for Um Saleh, her only hope is that the network can help young girls see the warning signs and get out before it is too late .

Jordanian National Commission for Women

The JNCW is one of the first semi-governmental commissions established in the Arab world to promote women’s issues .

Established by a Cabinet decision in 1992, JNCW led a large effort comprising Jordanian public and private institutions and individuals involved with women’s issues to formulate a national strategy for women in Jordan , according to its website .

JNCW’s responsibilities broadened in 1996 with a Cabinet decision to entrust it with defining policies and legislation related to women and identifying priorities, plans and programmes in both governmental and nongovernmental sectors in order to effectively carry them out, according to the organisation .

The organisation views itself as the authority on women’s issues and activities for the public sector, and it represents the Kingdom in all dealings pertaining to women’s affairs at national, regional and international levels .