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King of Jordan orders inquiry into claims of abuse in children´s homes (GUARDIAN UK) Maggie O´Kane 05/17/12)Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/16/king-jordan-inquiry-childrens-homes GUARDIAN UK GUARDIAN UK Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Undercover investigation by BBC Arabic reveals allegations of abuse of mentally and physically disabled children

The king of Jordan has ordered an inquiry into allegations of abuse in private children´s homes that were made in an undercover investigation aired in the country this week.

The BBC Arabic programme revealed allegations of abuse of children with mental and physical illnesses – some as young as seven or eight – that included sexual abuse, beatings, insults and swearing.

It is common for wealthy parents from across the Middle East to send children to Jordan for treatment. But BBC Arabic also found that eight of 54 such homes are facing private actions against them for the abuse of children.

The reporter for the BBC Arabic investigation, Hanan Khandagji, posed as a volunteer worker in the homes. He told the Guardian: "The conditions I saw there were extremely shocking because the children [cannot say] what happens to them and around them. They are seen as non-beings."

King Abdullah II responded to the programme by ordering an inquiry that must report back in two weeks. "Those who are convicted must be punished for their disgraceful acts and be an example to others," wrote the king in a letter to the prime minister.

He added: "I direct the government to start inspecting, following up and intensifying monitoring of all public and private centres serving disabled people and all other centres offering social services."

Nasar Sharmain is taking legal action against the al-Helal Centre in Amman, claiming his son was abused there. Sharmain says in the programme he was told not to visit Ahmad, 15, who has moderate mental and physical disabilities, for the first month to allow him to settle in.

However, Sharamin made a surprise visit and claims he was shocked when he saw his son. "His arm was broken. His finger … was broken. His ear, his nose, his chin from here to here was all covered with blood." The centre says Ahmad arrived with behavioural problems and denies that he was beaten up, saying he deliberately threw himself onto a wardrobe.

Khalid Yusef Abo Dagga brought his 12-year-old son Yusef from the United Arab Emirates to the Arab City Centre in Amman, which he found after searching the internet. But he claims he later discovered his son had been in hospital for more than two weeks with serious burns over half his body.

The Arab City Centre denies that any abuse took place.

In the film, a member of staff at another centre is filmed telling colleagues how he covered and jumped on a child and "thought he was dead" when trying to get him to go to sleep.

Jordan´s ministry of social development says inspectors visit private centres regularly.

The programme also uncovered allegations of sexual abuse at one private care home. (guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2012 05/17/12)

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