With an increasing number of reported child abuse cases in Jordan, a centre offering help to abused children has become a model for the country and the region, according to aid workers in Amman.
The Dar al-Aman child safety centre is the first of its kind to be established by a local NGO, and aims to tackle “the multiple consequences of abuse for children and their families”.
Opened in 2002, the facility is run by the Jordan River Foundation (JRF), chaired by Queen Rania Al-Abdullah, who is described as a driving force behind the project.
“When leaving the centre the children become empowered, are more confident and look forward to a better future,” Zina Khoury, child safety development manager at Dar al-Aman, said in the Jordanian capital.
“They are equipped to deal with any difficulties they face in the future,” she added, referring to future encounters of abuse.
The child safety centre offers psychological, medical, social and educational services for children and their families.
At present, the capacity is for 32 children at any one time, but staff members say that more such facilities are needed in Jordan.
The number of reported cases of abuse in the country has risen dramatically in the last few years, going from 661 in 2002 to 1,423 in 2004, Khoury said.
“We feel the number is probably higher, as many cases are not reported,” she added, emphasising the need for additional care facilities.
“This is a role model for the Middle East, and for Jordan itself, and we hope to open more centres in the future,” she explained.
Since the centre was established, 143 children have been cared for there.
Severe cases of abuse are referred there by the family protection unit within the Jordanian police department. The ultimate aim of the facility is to return the child to better family conditions.
According to Jordanian law, a child can only stay at Dar al-Aman for a maximum of five years. However, this can be reviewed in extreme cases, according to Khoury. Contact is maintained between the child and his or her family throughout the rehabilitation period.
“Children have a hard time leaving the family, and many have behavioural problems. It takes time for them to readjust,” Khoury added.
JRF has partnered with the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, in combating child abuse and supporting family efforts to nurture children in Jordan.
Pop star Ricky Martin visited Dar al-Aman on Sunday to promote its work. The musician is keenly involved, as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and through his Ricky Martin Foundation, in promoting children’s rights and tackling child abuse.
Martin is also the guest of honour at the 25th Arab Children’s Congress, due to be held in Amman from 24-30 July. This year’s conference is to focus on fighting child abuse and suffering as a result of wars. It will also address children's health, education and daily life in the Arab world.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions