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No place for harassment

May 31,2016 - Last updated at May 31,2016

Scores of women took to the streets last week to raise awareness about verbal harassment some women are subjected to when they go out alone.

Organisers of the anti-harassment rally, ActionAid and Namaa organisations, as well as the Fastwalk Group, said their aim was to make the streets safer for women, but also to let fellow Jordanians know about this kind of abuse some women might be subjected to in the street or other public spaces, or at places of work.

According to ActionAid head of programmes, there is no legal provision that criminalises harassment in Jordan.

In April, the government approved a series of changes to the Penal Code, which include increased punishment for perpetrators of different crimes, including harassment, but the amendments have yet to be endorsed by parliament.

To be sure, women in practically all countries of the world may be subjected to harassment. It certainly is not the exclusive behaviour of any nation, but this does not make it any less of a degrading treatment of women.

Stiffer legislation, therefore, is needed to tackle, and hopefully deter, perpetrators of this abuse.

Sadly, even when laws in this regard are in place, women are often reluctant to complain to the authorities about harassment, out of embarrassment or fearing retribution. Not to mention the many documented cases — the world over — of women found “guilty” of bringing harassment upon themselves by a misogynistic judge.

This reluctance of women to come forward can only change when solid laws that clearly define what constitutes harassment are in place and when it is recognised that it is men’s attitudes towards women that make harassment happen, and not the demeanour, outfit or look of a woman.

Authorities cannot combat this phenomenon without the cooperation of the victims. As such, special court procedures may have to be introduced to protect the victims and thus encourage them to come forward and lodge complaints.

Whatever needs to be done to protect women from this kind of abuse, and others, must be done.


There is no place in any civilised society for such behaviour. Even if there are only a few cases, denying that they exist is not a solution. Tackling them head on is.

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