The National Institute of Forensic Medicine (NIFM) dealt with 759 cases of rape or attempted rape in 2009, 65 per cent of which were perpetrated against women aged between 17 and 25, according to NIFM figures.
The figure also includes sexual assaults on children of both sexes and male teenagers, according to NIFM Director Momen Hadidi.
“We also consider a girl’s absence from her home for one or more days as a suspicion of rape and therefore the centre examines these girls to determine whether they were actually subjected to full penetration or not,” he told The Jordan Times.
Hadidi noted that the centre is sometimes obligated by the police or the victim’s family to conduct such an exam to determine whether sexual intercourse took place.
“The centre is constantly criticised by human rights organisations for conducting such examinations, but it is very important to find the perpetrator… and sometimes it can help in clearing the victim’s name,” he explained.
Sociologist Hilmi Sari described the number of cases as “terrifying”, considering the fact that the Jordanian community respects Islamic and Arab values and “is still committed to its identity”.
“We should not look at the number in itself, but the significant connotation it holds,” he told The Jordan Times.
Sari, chairman of the University of Jordan’s department of sociology, noted that the figures represent “dangerous” social indicators.
The NIFM report indicates that 34 per cent of the rape and sexual assault cases last year were committed by members of the same family or people known by the victims, a fact that has very negative consequences on the victims and “destabilises family values”, Sari said.
Lawyer Mohammad Basha echoed these sentiments, stressing that stiffer penalties should be imposed against those who asexually assault or rape a family member.
“It is considered a crime when someone commits rape, but it is more inhuman and immoral when the victim is a first degree relative,” he underlined, noting that Jordanian laws are influenced to a certain degree by “tribal norms” and therefore sometimes fail to guarantee the rights of rape victims.
“The culture of shame that prevails in the Kingdom also contributes to covering up sexual crimes in an attempt to prevent scandal,” Basha underscored.
Sari attributed the growing number of rape victims to a variety of factors, including broken families, the absence of moral and religious values, and “weak” legal deterrents.
“Sexual assaults or rapes that occur in the same family are largely linked to the large number of family members, which results in males and females sleeping next to each other in the same room,” he noted.