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Virtual event deliberates on support for gender-based violence survivors

By Rana Husseini - Dec 05,2020 - Last updated at Dec 05,2020

AMMAN — Local organisations and UN agencies in Jordan gathered online last week to discuss the best practical means to support gender-based violence survivors during emergency and lockdown situations.

The event, titled “Not just hotlines - innovative gender-based violence service provision: Technical workshop on developing safe and innovative ways for gender-based violence survivors to seek help amid and beyond COVID-19 in Jordan”, grouped civil society members and various UN agencies’ officials.

The technical workshop was held on the occasion of 16 the Days of Activism, which aimed to generate new ideas and concrete ways for targets and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) to seek help other than by mobile phone, according to the organisers.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Head of Office in Jordan Enshrah Ahmed pointed out that the meeting was aimed at “brainstorming together to come up with safe and innovative ways to support gender-based violence survivors”.

“We want to ensure a better and safer environment for domestic violence survivors during difficult times such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ahmed said.

The pandemic created many challenges and “changed our lives forever but when this is over, we will go back stronger”, she said.

The UN official said domestic violence incidents increased worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said the figures in Jordan pointed out to a-69 per cent-increase in domestic violence against women and children.

“Many of these victims were unable to reach help because they either had no access to mobile and computer devices or because their family members banned them from using them,” Ahmed noted.

The objective of the event was also to generate a common position among gender-based violence practitioners on which innovative and safe, alternative ways for targets of gender-based violnece to seek help other than by mobile phone, according to statement from UNDP.

The output of the workshop and other activities will be included in a publication aimed at providing information and guidance for gender-based violence survivors.

Meanwhile, Gender-based Violence Information and Case management Specialist at UNICEF Caroline Masboungi said that the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown “caused a rapid shift in the services provided to domestic violence survivors”.

“It became extremely hard to know when a woman or a child needed help so we had to think of ways to shift the services to be able to reach them,” Masboungi noted.

“That is why we thought of the phone booth could help, and in other instances advised them to seek help via their neighbours or trusted friends,” Masboungi added.

Zeinab Khalil from the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) said her organisation worked on enhancing dialogue and support through a recent initiative that was introduced and titled Rukni (My space).

“We established this safe space for gender-based violence survivors whereby they can contact us in a safe and secure manner,” Khalil said.

She added that several individuals were trained on ways to deal with anyone in need of help or legal guidance.

The Rukni Space project (phone booths/discrete safe spaces) was initiated by UNDP and the ARDD, and is being implemented by I am Human Association for Persons with Disabilities in Amman and the Madaba Cultural Association.

The aim of Rukni Space is to introduce an innovative method for survivors and women at risk to seek help and reduce the digital gender divide in Jordan among gender-based violence survivors and women at risk, including adolescent girls. They do so by developing overall digital literacy and capacity to use government e-services, according to UNDP.

More than 100 people made use of Rukni Space to seek help as a result of violence, UNDP said. 

These offices are equipped with digital communication devices that enable access to all protection and emergency services across the Kingdom, in addition to specialised staff that provides confidential and credible guidance, according to the UNDP statement. 

The participants agreed at the end of the workshop to refer the proposed solutions to the gender-based violence working group at UNDP for further enhancement and adoption by the beginning of 2021.


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