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Citizens explore solutions against discrimination, violence in society

By Camille Dupire - Jan 10,2018 - Last updated at Jan 10,2018

Participants in a group discussion share their views on discrimination and violence in society in Amman on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of Hani Obeidat)

AMMAN — Local audience on Tuesday participated in a group discussion about the ways to prevent and reduce violence and discrimination in society, presented by former Minister of Social Development and founding member of the Society for Protecting Family Violence Victims, Reem Abu Hassan.

During the event, which was organised by the local news organisation Hybris Media, Abu Hassan explored the reasons behind the use of violence and the creation of systems of discrimination in society, asking "what can be done about it and what community based solutions can be found?"

Highlighting the efforts undertaken by Jordan and countries across the region to fight discrimination and gender based violence, the former minister stressed on the importance for the public to be involved in the societal change.  

"Sometimes, perceptions of certain social issues [such as women's status in society] take time to change … But it is within your hands to change the dynamics," she told the audience.

"Violence continues to be a big part of everyday society, with many incidents occurring in today’s communities and the media," said Cesilia Faustina, founder of Hybris Media, noting that "violence and discrimination have also been costing billions of dollars in prevention action".

Focusing on the topic of gender-based violence, an issue that she has been deeply involved with throughout her career, Abu Hassan stressed that it is tightly linked to the economic status of women, noting that continuous legislative change must be upheld to help solve these problems.

According to UN Women's latest figures, one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once in her lifetime — mostly by intimate partners. 

This number is even higher in the MENA region, with over 37 per cent of Arab women having experienced some form of violence in their lifetime, with indicators that the percentage might be higher. 

"It was really enriching to hear about the Jordanian legislation regarding honour killing, sexual assault and the establishment of women's centres across the country as this is something I had never really thought about before," said Phoebe Rossman, a 16-year-old American studying in Amman. 

According to the Gender Inequality Index Rank, Jordan ranks at 111 and at 134 in the Global Gender Gap Index Rank. 

Additionally, the Kingdom also faces a number of other violent-related crimes, with a homicide rate of 3 cases per 100,000 people per year, a World Health Organisation report showed. 

"In my home country — America — discriminations are a huge issue, not only in their physical manifestations but also through all kinds of violence [emotional, psychological, verbal…]. I am really interested in understanding how violent systems of discrimination lead to internally manifested oppression," Rossman continued.

Attendees from all walks of life shared their views on the rise of violence in society, discussing the reasons behind hate crimes and discriminative behaviours.

"For me, violence and discrimination come because of fear. I don’t believe the problem starts with hatred but rather with fear of the other," said Fadi Mdanat, a 23-year-old Jordanian, who added, "We need to make a change first as individuals instead of trying to change society."

"Seeing so many people tonight seeking change and willing to improve themselves really gave me hope and inspired me," he concluded, voicing more optimism in a change coming from grassroots movements than institutions.

For his part, Mustafa Najia, a Palestinian living in Jordan said: "Violence and discrimination in society only come from those who lack confidence and are seeking power from those who are weaker or less smart. I believe they try to hide their lack of self-confidence by being violent against others."

 

An independent media project launched in 2017 in Jordan, Hybris Media seeks to inspire and create a change and a movement through journalism, community discussions and online multimedia content, according to its website.

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