Project Factsheet
Tools for » Strengthen Prevention and Response to conflict-related sexual violence in the Syria conflict and other forms of SGBV in Jordan through improved access to justice and engagement with community leaders
Project ID:00102870Description:UNA050 UNHCR UNICEF UNFPA Jord
UN Action Agst Sexual Violence
Start Date *: 12 Oct 2016
UN Action Against Sexual Viole
End Date*: 31 Jan 2019
Country: United Nations Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple

As of 31 July 2015, the total number of Syrian refugees registered with UNHCR in Jordan has reached 629,128 persons. Some 521,000 refugees, which is close to 84% of the total Syrian refugee population, live in urban areas while the remaining live in refugee camps. Jordan is also host to nearly 47,000 Iraqis, all of whom live in urban settings. Close to half of Iraqis registered with UNHCR (21,499) registered in 2014, when Jordan experienced a sharp increase in the number of Iraqis approaching UNHCR seeking international protection. Recent assessments indicate that up to 30% of Syrian refugees in Jordan have specific physical or intellectual needs, with one in five refugees affected by physical, sensory or intellectual impairment, and one in seven refugees affected by chronic illnesses that could potentially lead to disabilities.

The issue of SGBV, including conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) that occurred in Syria/Iraq, surrounding the refugees in Jordan remains critical. Sexual violence has been a persistent feature of the Syrian conflict and fear of rape has been reported as a driving motivation for families fleeing the violence[1]  Subsequently, refugees and other vulnerable populations in Jordan are facing an increased risk of SGBV, including sexual exploitation and abuse due to the situation of instability, protracted displacement and limited access to financial resources. Women, girls, boys and men survivors are often afraid to speak openly about SGBV and to discuss what has happened to them, owing to stigmatization and fear of retaliation by family and community members. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) individuals and people with disabilities face additional challenges to access specialized SGBV & CRSV response services. Some female refugees report that they are not allowed to leave their homes unaccompanied because of perceived insecurity, making it difficult for them to access information and services.

As per the MENA regional strategy developed by the SRSG office, the welcome given to Syrian refugees by neighboring countries as well as the enormous resources these countries have provided for hosting Syrian refugees are impressive. However, this is putting countries and social services under tremendous pressure, and greater support is needed from donors not only for programmes for refugees but also to support host communities who have absorbed approximately 80 percent of the refugees. It should be noted that only around 20% of Syrian refugees live in camp settings in Turkey and Jordan, and informal settlements in Lebanon. This poses significant challenges in terms of service delivery for a majority of Syrian refugees. Those refugees living in urban settings and host communities do not have access to the direct humanitarian assistance being delivered in camps or informal settlements. In addition, refugees living outside camps face unique challenges with regard to sexual violence, including early marriage as a negative coping strategy, despite the fact that it is legally prohibited in some of these contexts, survival sex and trafficking.

According to Activity Info (online programme monitoring system for the Syrian refugee assistance), the UN and partners provided support to 10,550 survivors of SGBV in 2014.[1]  The Gender-Based Violence Information Management System (GBVIMS)[1] data (covering the period from May to December 2014) shows that among all survivors of SGBV assisted by case management organizations reporting in the system, most survivors receiving specialized services were women (58%) and girls (32%), but men (7%) and boys (3%) also reported and received services. Domestic violence is the most commonly reported form of SGBV both inside and outside the camps, followed by forced and early marriage. Data from the GBVIMS shows that most of the incidents disclosed by survivors were perpetrated by members of their nuclear families, mostly by spouses, parents/caregivers and at the survivors’ homes (82%).

GBVIMS data (same period as above) shows that the 8.4 % of reported incidents of women, girls, boys and men seeking support in Jordan are survivors of sexual violence. Findings from national studies suggest that this represents a significant under-reporting of sexual violence incidents. While the majority of the rape and sexual assaults incidents reported took place in Jordan (56. 6%), a significant percentage of the reported cases occurred in Iraq (20%), Syria (16%) and other countries (9.4%). This represents a considerable increase in reported incidents of sexual violence happening in Iraq. Similar trends have been observed in 2015.

Issues related to assistance for rape survivors include: the lack of a national protocol on post-rape clinical care (Clinical Management of Rape), in line with international standards, developed and endorsed, issue closely connected with the lack of registration of emergency treatment. In Jordan abortion is illegal, with the exception of therapeutic abortion.[2] Therefore survivors of sexual violence do not have the right to access abortion services. Children who are born out of marriage, including as a result of rape, may be separated after birth from their mothers and sheltered in the institutions of the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD), given new names, and the parental and custodial rights of mothers and fathers may be terminated. The Jordanian Penal Code allows the exemption of charges for rape perpetrators who marry the survivor. Under these circumstances legal advocacy, counselling and representation are critical instruments to ensure safety and security of survivors, prevent family separation and reduce impunity.

Legal services for SGBV, including CRSV survivors are available inside and outside refugee camps and informal tented settlements through deployment of mobile teams, but there are cases when survivors seeking legal services declined them due to multiple factors, including the limited expertise on SGBV issues and principles among legal practitioners[3]. The limited capacity of the Sharia Courts in Zaatari and Azraq camps make it very difficult for survivors to access legal remedies in a timely and meaningful manner. Legal services provided by the Sharia Court and their Family Reconciliation offices are essential for all matters related to the documentation of marriages and births, ensuring the rights of women and girls and preventing early marriages. UNHCR, UNFPA and UNICEF plan to improve access to justice for survivors through increased availability and quality of legal services for survivors, and increased capacity of Sharia Court in refugee camps which has been identified as a priority for the SGBV Sub-Working Group in Jordan in its three-year strategy (2015-2017). The General Recommendation on Women´s access to Justice of the  Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will guide the implementation, monitoring and reporting phases of the different components of the project.

Another major concern linked to SGBV-CRSV taking place inside Syria and as a direct consequence of the Syrian conflict in Jordan is the growing trend of early marriages, mainly impacting girls. In 2013 and 2014, the prevalence of early marriage among Syrian girls showed a sharp increase, with marriage by females under the age of 18 as a proportion of all registered marriages by Syrians increasing from 25% in 2013 to 32.3% in 2014.[4] Despite the efforts of the humanitarian community early marriage rates have not decreased and remained stable for the last ten years at around 13% of all registered marriages. Survivors of early marriage are often at a higher risk of other types of SGBV. Married children have reported incidents of physical assault, psychological/emotional abuse, sexual violence (including rape) and denial of resources.

There is currently relatively low engagement of civil society organizations, religious leaders and national institutions in inter-agency coordination which hinders the efficiency of community-based prevention strategies, including awareness raising on the negative consequences of forced and early marriage. UNHCR, UNICEF and UNFPA plan to build capacity and raise the awareness of community leaders and authorities to reduce the risk and mitigate the consequences of forced and early marriage, as per the work plan of the Forced and Early Marriage Task Force (FEMTF) and priority areas identified in the SGBV Sub-Working Group three-year strategy (2015-2017).


[2] It is important to note that consolidated data in the GBVIMS relates to reported cases exclusively, and is in no way representative of the total incidence or prevalence of SGBV in one location or group of locations.
[3] Articles 321-325 Penal Code No. 16/1960 and its amendments, as last amended by the Law No. 8 of 2011
[4] As per the Recommendation 33 CEDAW “ Good quality of justice systems requires that all components of the system adhere to international standards of competence, efficiency, independence and impartiality5 and provide, in a timely fashion, appropriate and effective remedies that are enforced and that lead to sustainable gender-sensitive dispute resolution for all women. It also requires that justice systems are contextualized, dynamic, participatory, open to innovative practical measures, gender-sensitive, and take account of the increasing demands for justice by women.
[5] UNICEF, A study on early marriage in Jordan, 2014


Goals and Objectives 

The overall goal of this Inter-Agency proposal is to strengthen the SGBV prevention and response system in Jordan at both community and national level by achieving the following:



a)      Improved availability, access to and quality of SGBV, including CRSV survivors’ legal assistance and legal remedies within the multi-sectoral survivor-centered response;

b)      Improved community and religious-based engagement to prevent the risks and mitigate the consequences of SGBV;


Expected Outputs 

Under Objective a):

  1. Guidelines and training materials for quality legal assistance to SGBV-CRSV survivors are developed for use by local organizations (including Mizan, JCLA, Tamkeen and others) providing legal services or involved in legal assistance;
  2. Specialized quality legal services are available and accessible to SGBV-CRSV survivors in camps and outside camps, for Sharia and criminal courts;
  3. The capacity of Sharia courts’ Family Reconciliation Offices in preventing and responding to SGBV-CRSV, including early marriage is increased. 


Under Objective b):

  1. Context-appropriate good practices on engaging religious leaders and communities to prevent SGBV-CRSV, in particular sexual violence and early marriage, are identified and applied for advocacy purposes and to community-level outreach programmes;
  2. A group of religious and community leaders are advocates against SGBV-CRSV and in support of attitude and behavior change.  


The objectives and expected outputs mentioned above link closely to the MENA strategy developed by the office of the SRSG on sexual violence in conflict, in particular critical priority areas 4 (strengthen the support and services to survivors of sexual violence), 5 (deepen information, analysis and documentation) and 6 (reduce impunity through the improvement of access to justice).

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