Sunday, March 29, 2009

To neuter or not to neuter, help is at hand

Here is an interesting letter to the editor that appeared in the Jordan Times today …. Thank you Jeremy Hulme of SPANA for offering free neutering services for cats and dogs, be they pets or strays, at the Spana Jordan offices, tel 5865451, located south of Amman in Wadi Seer >

If I can just get hold of that beautiful Burmese cat, no doubt someone’s pet, I saw wandering the streets around my house with the telltale sign of flattened fur around its neck where once a collar used to be, I shall have him checked out. Sadly many foreigners at end of contract in Jordan seem to think that the costs involved in taking their beloved pets with them is not worth it, so to ease their conscience, they release them on to the streets of Jordan to fend for themselves if no home is found; aka the little puppy I saw kicked down a wadi at the Dead Sea by a young East European man driving a diplomat's car last summer! But this is but a small part of the stray animal problem in Jordan. At least it is being talked about and institutions such as SPANA Jordan, The Humane Centre for Animal Welfare run by Margaret Ledger and others are doing tremendous work to bring this issue to the attention of the general public and authorities concerned.

The burdens of man’s inhumanity to all living things is simply mind boggling …. So we do what we can, through action or simply words, in the small hope that something somewhere will change for the better ….. even for a cat.

With reference to the comments by Fakhri Kawar regarding stray dogs, in the “Arabic press commentaries” (The Jordan Times March 23, 2009), surely the writer unintentionally produced his own solution when he said: “In Europe the situation is different as people… take care of them.”
As a chief executive of the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA), I can assure him that the problem of stray dogs and cats is the same across Africa, the Middle East and even parts of Europe. Yet, it has been proved time and time again that simply shooting or poisoning the animals is not the answer.
While irresponsible owners allow dogs and cats to bread indiscriminately, the offspring will simply repopulate any area where there is food. The solution is simple: the education of owners to neuter and control their animals.
SPANA Jordan will undertake this procedure free of charge (telephone number 5865451).
If people refuse to neuter and control their animals, there will always be problems of stray and semi-wild dogs attaching children and livestock, and causing road accidents.
Jeremy Hulme,

29 March 2009


Friday, March 27, 2009

Where is Honour Found?

This posting is not an attempt to diminish the horror of honor crimes; it is an attempt to understand the framework in which they exist.

Jordanian society as a whole does not condone honor killings. It is a very small minority of people, influenced by some dark traditions in their tribal past, who believe they have the right to kill their female relatives to preserve their ‘honor.’

One would assume then that the majority of enlightened men in our government and parliament would overturn the laws that allow these murders to go virtually unpunished. Instead it seems almost like a taboo for men to debate and denounce honor crimes publically even though they personally deplore them and would never commit one.

It is my understanding that Jordanian men derive their honor from the activities of their female relatives. Therefore what is perceived to be a woman’s disagreeable, objectionable, or disobedient behavior reflects on the honor of her male relatives, usually her father, making him look weak and vulnerable in the eyes of others.

Losing control over a woman in his charge is a serious insult to his manhood.Since the defining symbol of a man’s honor rests on the actions of his female relatives, it follows that part of the core identity of his manliness is in her hands, which in itself is a threat to a man. How confusing for both men and women. He needs control over her since his honor rests with her, and she has control over him by her behavior. Regardless, I doubt if we westerners can appreciate how important the opinion of others is in Jordanian society. Male and female codes of behavior that influence opinion have been taken for granted for so long, they are part of the cultural norm.

I don’t understand how honor, or other’s opinions of a person, rests in the actions of their relatives. Certainly an adult is responsible for his own actions, but that isn’t for me to decide. After reading about the viciousness of the latest honor crime, it is time for Jordanian men and women to define ‘honor’ and decide where it is found. In the meantime, changing laws will not stop honor crimes, but if the perpetrators are prosecuted to the full extent of the law as murderers, it will go a long way to decrease their frequency. ASH

suicide or 'honour' killing?

Women told: 'You have dishonoured your family, please kill yourself'
As Turkey cracks down on 'honour killings', women are now told to commit suicide.

"Honour killings aren't always properly investigated because some police and prosecutors share the same views as the honour killers," she said. "For things to change, police, prosecutors and even judges need to be educated on gender equality."

We are not the only country struggling with the murders of women committed in the name of 'honour'. The phenomonen of suicide by a woman forced into taking her own life has reared its ugly head here also though I don't think investigations into these deaths has been taken seriously enough. T

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Violence in the family

The physical abuse by husbands on their wives is something that is increasing here. I wonder why? Is it because actual abuse is increasing or is it because there is now a known way of reporting this type of abuse?

Women who are victims of abuse tend to blame themselves 'oh it was my fault the food was not on the table in time' or 'I didn't wake him up in time for work', 'I deserved it because I did not do what he wanted', and so on. It is NEVER right for a husband to beat his wife NEVER, NEVER, NEVER.

Unfortunately these kinds of cases are so difficult. We do have the Family Protection Department (police) with units round the country plus a shelter if the women need a safe place. If you need help for any family violence (where the offender is from within the family) or any sexual offences (whoever the offender is) please get in touch -

Family Protection Department
Call free on 111
5815738, 5815826, 5815846
Irbid: 02 7022348
Zerka: 05 3982952
Balqa: 05 3533682
Madaba: 05 3246901
Aqaba: 03 2050317
Kerak: 03 2387069


Monday, March 23, 2009

a stain on Jordan's reputation - the murder of women

How many times do we, as women, have to scream and shout about the way we are treated in this country? is an opinion piece by Nermeen Murad in today's Jordan Times on 'Death in the Family' about the rage she feels at the 'archaic practices that have no relevance to the majority of society'. Yet another so-called 'honour crime' when 'a young girl, a teenager, was relentlessly beaten with water hoses mercilessly and continuously by three men until she died'. This murder was done by her father and two brothers and they have been detained for only 15 days pending further investigation!

I urge everyone who reads this blog to write to the Jordan Times ( or their newspaper of choice, expressing their disgust at the Government, Parliament and even the Royal Family for not protecting these innocent lives. T

Friday, March 20, 2009

criticising and praising Jordan

It has been interesting reading the many blogs that are critical of Jordan, some of them have excellent points and others are just rants. I certainly believe that we have the right to constructively criticise all those who serve the country from top to bottom and to make our feelings known on the many subjects that irritate and upset us.

So now I am going to do the opposite! Many people know I have been involved with the PSD and the Family Protection Department for 11 years and it has had its ups and downs but it has been an interesting journey and a great insight into the workings of our justice system. There is so much to praise and a lot to complain about but great strides have been made on behalf of abused women and children. So many people wanting to improve the system, especially in the courts which are creaking under the strain. There are many who are working so hard in difficult circumstances, the proverbial 'unknown soldiers' and we tend to forget them.

So I am saying well done to all those police officers who have to work with these difficult cases and the same to the social workers who are under such strain, the forensic doctors, the prosecutors and the judges. Then come all the NGOs who work with abused children and women. Nothing is perfect in this life but some people try so hard and we should remember them. T

Blogapix - Jebel Bani Hamida

Springtime is always a wonderful occasion to take to the road and head off into rural Jordan, such as Jebel Bani Hamida, south of Madaba. It does wonders for the soul, especially when coupled with a visit to the Bani Hamida weaving project and centre; if only they could set up tent to serve tea and coffee there too, it would be just perfect!

On the road to Bani Hamida with a glimpse of the Dead Sea

Sheep herding is an important business in these regions, for these 'guys' ...

...produce this .... 

...that makes these ....

...that provides income support for women that sustains a community that preserves a cultural heritage that blends the traditional with the modern;    always a successful model of development for locals and tourists alike.   

Long may it last!


Saturday, March 14, 2009

One Consequence of a Discriminatory Law

Only male Jordanian citizens can transmit Jordanian nationality to their offspring. Female Jordanian citizens do not have that right.  Changing this law has been high on the agenda of politically active individuals and organizations for the past 10 years or more, and quite recently there have been numerous articles about it. The list is long of the injustices and frustrations suffered by the children and families of Jordanian mothers and foreign fathers. Enumerating some of them might make this posting more remarkable, but the situation that I relate is tragic enough.

I have known a seamstress for a number of years and only recently found out from her that she has a baby who was born with a hole in his heart. The little fellow is nine months old now, and although I don’t know the medical details in his case, I’m quite sure that he will not survive too many years without heart surgery. My seamstress is Jordanian, but because her husband is Egyptian the baby does not qualify for a national identity number. This means he cannot benefit from any charitable aid that might be available.  It would be impossible for the family to put together enough funds to pay for surgery on the baby.  Jordan has the medical facilities, the doctors, and the resources to treat him. His mother is a Jordanian citizen, and the child was born in Jordan. But because of this unconscionable law, the child is doomed to die.


Blogapix - A Sea called Dead, Dangerous ... and Hopeful

Dangerous at the Dead Sea ...
Parting company ... as the sun sets
At the Dead waiting .... and empty

Swimming in the dead zone!

It is always so peaceful on the eastern shores of the Dead Sea .... particularly at sunset and sunrise. Yet as we sit in peaceful contemplation as the sun disappears beyond the hills of Jerusalem .... there is that constant tinge of anxiety that sits in the pit of the stomach as the last sliver of sun disappears, reminding us that all is not well in the holy land ....

Oh God if only that were so! Please make it so! So that a Palestinian mother can sit wherever she wants, smell the rose, the yasmin and orange blossom and watch with a happy heart the setting of the sun secure in the knowledge that a new day will bring joy - not fear - in the raising of her child and the celebration of her motherhood.

Is that so much to ask for?


Friday, March 13, 2009

It's spring time ....

Blog About Jordan Day ... 24 hours late!

Last Friday was Orange Festival time in the North at Tabkat Fahel, (or Pella as I discovered). So we headed south, direction the Dead Sea for the Jordan Valley, as the warmth of the weather brought many families out to savour the fleeting glimpse of spring. 

The drive over was just wonderful to see the mountains covered in a blanket of green with wild iris and mustard seed bursting fort; it felt like a privilege as it would only last for a few weeks before the ever advancing heat from the sun would dry it all up and turn it into dust. It was just as well that we had time on our side because without realising it, we had taken the long, scenic route from the Dead Sea, a trip that would take us almost three hours .... even my husband hadn't realised that Tabkat Fahel was actually the arabic name for the archaeological site of Pella - and the easier, shorter route would have been from Jerash in the north! However, we enjoyed seeing the Jordan Valley in bloom, as we drove along through agricultural village after village, our nostrils filled with the pungent smells of fertiliser and the like, with the odd welcome aroma of pine trees and orange blossom that was music to our senses. Orange festival here we come ... if only we could find it!  And as if the colours around us were beckoning us on we came across a colourful campsite of seasonal agricultural workers that waved us on our way.  

Pella rest house in the distance ...we had arrived!

... and a warm welcome from the locals ...

It was a peaceful day as we returned to Amman via Jerash just in time to watch the sun set over the King Talal Dam.

Next year, on BAJD, I hope to get in before the eleventh hour!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Blog Jordan Day - photo diary.

I realise I have nine minutes to go before Blog Jordan ends! So, I thought I would post a photo diary of my various travels throughout Jordan .... as a reminder to myself that Jordan is simply beautiful ....damn ... blogger takes so long to upload photos ... 12 midnight has just struck ... and I am about to turn into a ..... never mind! J

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Long overdue ....

International women’s day this year has roused women and men from the public and private sectors to call on the Jordanian authorities to do all that it can to rid our society of the scourge of so called honour killings; murder by any other name.

By marking this year as the year “women and men unite to end violence against women and girls” it is a reassuring and clear signal to all that actions taken by delusional members of the Jordanian society under the ruse of cleansing family honour, does nothing but cloak an entire nation, our extended Jordanian family, in shame and dishonour.

It has to stop. And that is it – a cultural scourge fed by egocentric machismo that has no foundation in religion or the modern nation state founded on the rule of law, unless we allow it. For indeed one of the observations of the Prophet Muhammad is this: "How does any of you beat his wife as he beats a stallion camel and then feel that he may embrace her?" (Bukhari)

"And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts; surely in that are signs for those who reflect.” (Quran 30:21)

The disconnect between misguided cultural attitudes, lack of adequate laws to assist the judiciary and true Qur’anic teachings must be addressed that we may indeed reflect properly and banish this evil once and for all …. it is long overdue.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Shocking death of Indonesian maid

I was horrified to read about the death of an Indonesian maid at the hands of her Jordanian employers. According to the Jordan Times the couple confessed to beating the woman to 'discipline' her. What goes through people's minds that they think they have the right to use violence against a defenceless woman in their own home or anywhere else for that matter? And why are they only charged with manslaughter and not murder?

I just wonder if they use the same violence on their children? T

Sunday, March 08, 2009

In commemoration of international women's day

What better way to commemorate this day than by supporting the devastated women of Gaza:

International Women’s Day is a time when people around the globe focus on the needs and contributions of women. This year, on Sunday, March 8, 2009, women and men worldwide will commemorate the day by highlighting the plight of the women of Gaza.

CODEPINK will send an international delegation to Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid. They ask you to show your support by becoming a sponsor (to help with outreach), making a donation and/or joining the March 5-11 International Women’s Delegation to Gaza.

The call to action is endorsed by 45 women’s organizations and individuals including the National Congress of Black Women, Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, American Muslim Voice, author Alice Walker and journalist Laura Flanders.

The four aid groups include: the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.


Also for this day, here is a wonderful book about extraordinary women of the Muslim world.

Yalla, lots of work to do!


Saturday, March 07, 2009

when is immoral ...immoral?

... when Israel is doing it!

I can't believe the gal of Israeli Efraim Inbar, (summed up really well in this article) an advisor to Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who said in the February 1 Jerusalem Post, that “Hamastan must not be rebuilt by the world. The developing international campaign to reconstruct Gaza is strategic folly.... And, under current circumstances, it is also immoral”.


The amorality of Israel is quite shocking ... So let's start calling it what it is ... ooops not being very helpful here am I ... Israeli genocide ... simply because we then have the law ... even if it is after the fact, it is there for us to take action regardless of race, religion or creed. The fact that this law is held hostage to politics is what is also immoral ...

Just when is Israel going to be held accountable (ie pay up) for its own fascist follies?


Closed zone - the movie


Friday, March 06, 2009

Thoughts for the day

"It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificually induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear."
General Douglas MacArthur, Speech, May 15, 1951

"Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."
Thomas Jefferson

Just apply to any country you feel like ... J

Thursday, March 05, 2009


Would someone please explain the "accepted practice" concerning ambulances in Jordan?

In the UK an ambulance has complete priority on the road. Drivers must give-way, pulling onto the hard shoulder, or in some cases, onto the pavement, so that the ambulance can pass, unimpeded, on its journey to or from an emergency.

When I hear an ambulance siren or spot flashing lights in my rear view mirror here in Amman, I try to make way. But I'm the only one! No drivers pull over and the ambulance just has to jump between lanes. At traffic lights, oncoming cars don't bother to stop to give a clear passage, and if the ambulance goes through a red light then several cars following take the opportunity to jump the lights too.

Mind you, the ambulances themselves don't appear to be in the best condition. One can easily overtake them on a hill which doesn't say much for the power of the engine. I hope I never need the services of an ambulance anywhere, but especially in Jordan.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Moab Musings on a Wednesday

Disi sunset during stormy weather in February 09

Hubby was listening to the radio before breakfast. “So what’s going on in the world today” … asks me, almost robotically, knowing full well what the miserable answer would be, as I prepared a mini mezzah of olives, zeit and zartar, mutabal and lebaneh … those delectable delights of an Arabian kitchen.

Pause … I glanced over as he removed the headphones from his ears and as if delivering a sermon from a mount, says with all the pomp and ceremony he can easily muster …: “Well, the Israelis pulled out of Jerusalem and the West Bank back to the 1967 borders. Jerusalem is declared an international city of peace. Israel has become a true democracy. No more bombs or rockets exist in Gaza. Hamas is the legitimate ruling authority of Palestine that is now back on the world map. The Iraqis and Afghanis kicked the Americans back to their side of the world; and Islam coexists peacefully with Christianity, Judaism, Baha’ism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and last but not least atheism”

“Happy now?”

Well, yes, actually I was! Nothing wrong with a bit of utopian thinking from time to time, helps to restore a little faith and hope in humanity … for what it’s worth!


PS - I forgot to mention Sufism!