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Activists rally in Amman against harassment

By Suzanna Goussous - May 25,2016 - Last updated at May 25,2016

Amman residents on Sunday participate in a march organised by ActionAid, Namaa Organisation and Fastwalk Group (Photo courtesy of ActionAid)

AMMAN – Around 100 residents of Amman took the streets earlier this week to raise awareness on verbal harassment some women experience when they go out alone, though some see it as uncommon in Jordan.

Organisers of the anti-harassment rally –– ActionAid organisation, in cooperation with Namaa Organisation and Fastwalk Group –– said the march aimed at making the streets safer for women. 

“Harassment can limit women outdoor activities,” said Mouwaffaq Maraka, the founder of Fastwalk Group, who noted that the group had organised more than 1,100 activities in the past years with around 80 addressing several issues in the society.

Amani Hammad, the head of programmes at ActionAid said there is “no legal provision that criminalises harassment in Jordan”.

In April of this year, the government approved a number of changes to the Penal Code, which included increased punishments for several crimes including harassment. The amendments have yet to be endorsed by the Parliament. 

In a bid to address the issue of harassment, Minister of Justice Bassam Talhouni has previously said the amendments would include publishing photos of those proven guilty of sexual harassment in dailies as a deterrent.

The new version of Penal Code imposes imprisonment of up to six months or a fine on those found guilty of committing harassment, according to Talhouni.

“Sometimes it is the way men stare at women. This is something we are trying to change,” a female member of the organisation said, preferring to remain unnamed.

“It is our right as women to enjoy this city, our city, we have the right to walk down the streets safely without having to experience distress; this doesn’t only affect social relations, but it also diminish women’s economic participation,” she added.

Hadeel Khawaja of Namaa Organisation, said the rally aims at engaging students, shop owners and residents to participate in combating the issue.

The project focuses on raising social awareness on verbal harassment women sometimes face when they walk in the streets, according to Khawaja, who voiced hope that such initiatives would bring attention to gender-related issues.

Starting from the 5th Circle, participants chose walking in one of the most crowded areas in the capital, Rainbow Street, located near the 1st Circle, to attract the attention of people on the issue.

“Rainbow Street is full of cafés and restaurants. We picked it because shop owners themselves pay the price of harassment when they see low number of customers due to the verbal harassment outside their shops,” she added.

To Aya Mohammad, more attention and awareness campaigns should be launched in Amman, particularly in areas where residents and tourists spend most of their time.

But Amman resident Tala Rihan, 22, said harassment is not a “commonissue” in Jordan.

“Many women can go alone at night without facing problems; the social awareness levels are higher in the country,” she said, adding, however, that awareness initiatives can help prevent such problems.

Hassan Awamleh, also a resident of the capital, said the issue is “not as common as other countries” in the region. 

“I can see it very limited in our streets,” he said. 

 

What happens in the streets most of the time is “innocent” flirting, said 30-year old Wafa Musa, who indicated that sometimes she stays out till late and has never experienced harassment. 

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Comments

My thoughts are never find justification for harassment by blaming what women wear. No excuse for bad behavior, women insult or invading a woman privacy no matter what the woman choose to wear. Once we held the harasser to accountability, harassment will be deterred and society will improve.

Or maybe your sons and their friends should learn what rescpect for a woman is

To Tala Rihan and Wafa Musa: Seriously ?? I get verbally harassed in the streets on a daily basis, it affects my life and life choices, my dignity and my mental well being and you say there is no problem and it's all innocent? Do you even walk in the streets or do you just float from your house to the office to a restaurant on rosy clouds above Amman???

And Hassan Awamleh you have no idea what we go through as women, you don't get harassed because you are not a woman and you obviously don't see what the big deal is but believe me it is a HUGE deal to me, because I feel threatened every time it happens !

If anyone denies harassment in Jordan then he or she must be blind or stupid or one of the harassers. People have lost respect. This was different years ago. Its getting worse now and no one cares until bigger crimes happen. Problem: Jordanians aren't aware of how serious this matter is and the ones who know the seriousness of it just ignore it. I am a Jordanian coming from a Jordanian family. When I go out with my sisters for a walk or to anywhere in the City, things get very uncomfortable for me and my sisters. I am not a man who allows his family to be insulted but I also choose to not make a problem like many caring big brothers. The amount of harassments that happen are huge and extremely rude and disrespectful. This country simply is not ready yet to rise to that level of respect for (arab) women and to an understanding of womens value in our society. Jordanians could learn more about respect if they actually opened that chapter in Islam books explaining the freedom and the value of women that even the west doesn't kn ow about. But reading is also something we don't get. Poor Jordanians and Poor Jordan. Salam

a lot of my fellow jordanian men harass and get a way with it because no one says anything against it, harassment come to fully covered and well dressed the same, its the concept that men can do waht ever they want.
when ever a woman walks alone in any street in Amman there has to be some thing from a beep a shout or ever garbing.
and the fact that you blame women for wearing what ever just proves that the men act like animals and its ok.
no its not ok. its sad and repulsive. and every harasser should be held accountable.

Men of Jordanian society should be held to a higher standard, and, also are to "appear more respectful" in both, the way they talk and their mannerisms, in public, as women, after all, are their honor.

Um Ahmad, I think it would be wonderful if people respected women because they are people, regardless of what they are wearing. Men who wear tight-fitting shirts are rarely subject to the kind of negative attention women regularly experience, so I don't think this is just about how some women choose to dress. I think it is unfair to ask women to be responsible for ensuring men do not act abusively towards them. We shouldn't set such low expectations for men.

It is sad when women don't even recognize harrassment. Can't go a day in Amman without hearing "tss tss tss"! Thete's no such thing as innocent harrassment.

It is not true that Jordan has no problem with harassment or that it appears less than in other countries... In cities like Madaba women get harassed every time they go out (no matter, what time it is). And it is not about the way they dress. Women should dress the way they want, men should learn how to behave! We should not blame women if they get harassed, they are the victims!

What I observe is men looking and harassing women based on how the women are dressed. Tighter, more revealing clothes, the more harassment. Maybe women should appear more respectful in public to be harassed less.

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