By Randa Darwish
While many around the world celebrated the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women last week, Jordanian women activists launched a 16-day campaign to raise awareness on what women face in their daily lives in the Kingdom.
In a Middle East country like Jordan, discussing sexual harassment, rape and different forms of violence faced by women on daily basis was considered a taboo subject for so long.
Lately, with more international movements going viral to raise awareness of sexual harassment and abuse against females, Arab women and Jordanians are steping up to express their own voices and help put an end to the rising harassment they face daily on the streets.
Led by the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW) and the Shama'a Network, in collaboration with the United Nations in Jordan, a 16-day Campaign of Activism against Gender-Based Violence kicked off with ladies sharing advice, facts and stories based on their personal experiences of harassment and other violence they faced through their lives.
On hashtags “#SpeakUpJo”, “16daysjo”, ما تسكتوش [Don’t stay silent] and التحرش جريمة [Harassment is a crime], women are expressing their voices loudly condemning the long-lasting traditions and victim-blame culture.
The campaign is considered as a necessity for Jordanians, where outdated culture of women being ashamed to speak up about the harassment they faced is not seeing any decline.
Latest statistics in Jordan show sexual harassment, rape and different forms of violence against women have been on the rise for the last three years.
The social media hashtags have come as part of wider campaign with banners in streets, local transport buses and shopping centers. Events are also organized being organized in different parts of the country to raise awareness among women as well as society of the need to stop violence against women.
Translation: “Sexual harassment in widely spread in Jordan but people and the government are not taking any serious steps to stop it.”
Hashtags gathered momentum with more social media users joining to talk about it.
Translation: “It is a right for every girl and child to live in peace at their homes, however, most sexual harassment incidents reported take place in the home "by other relatives".
Translation: “We should speak up, do not stay silent!”
Translation: “While most harassers claim women wearing inappropriate clothes are the reason behind the harassment, a polll of some the victims showed there is no relation between women clothes and being harassed, as some wear hijabs and even niqabs.”
Many are even saying now that the Penal Code in Jordan which criminalizes sexual harassment should be applied more strictly.
Translation: “Articles (306), (305) and (320) of the Penal Code criminalize harassment.”
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