Jordanian women and sexual street harassers


While walking in Jabal Al Hussen the other day with 3adoola, he suddenly went outraged and started shouting and cursing. I was surprised of his sudden outbursed and asked him what’s wrong.

Apparantly there has been a girl walking in front of us on the pavement and came on to him in a weird way. I didn’t see her, but it seems that she has gave him a sexy look, bite her lips and winked!

He was like “What is this psycho bi*** doing?

When I realized what happened I started laughing. I asked him what would he do if he has been a woman?

While it is rare to see a woman hit on a man in Amman’s streets like this, having it the other way around is very common. I guess that every grown up woman has been through some kind of sexual harrassment in the streets of Amman more than once.

It reminded me of my late teenage years where I started to be more protective towards my sister who happen to be a year younger than me. I had no authority to what she dresses, and I personally did like how she used to dress, but sometimes when going out togather I used to put on the alert mode because of the looks and sleazy comments of our sexually deprived young men.

At some point, and while I see it as completely absurd now, I tried to interfere in what she used to dress, like telling her to change her tight shirt or wearing a longer skirt. Fortunatly she has never allowed me to do that, but it has always kept me alerted, staring upon every potential eye intruder and giving implied messages that there is a man here to protect this woman.

While studing at the university. I used to feel the same towards other female friends. I used to feel alerted whenever I walk side by side with another female friend of mine. At times, it hasn’t been an easy job. If I wanted to pick a fight with every one staring at the woman I walk with, I would end up fighting all day long. It was hectic for me to keep up the alert mode. I wonder how hard it was on the girl herself walking alone in the street of the university and hearing various comments here and there.

There has been plenty of fights that has triggered in the university because of this issue. There seem to be a culture among young men where they feel that it is their rights to harass a woman just because she isn’t veiled, or wearing a tight shirt or jeans, or any kind of a revealing cloth that is up of his standards of women cloths.

I was appailed when I first heard this excuse. A few years ago, while going out for lunch with a co-worker, who happened to be a very religious person, who always talks about el haram o el halal (right and wrong) and who never miss any prayer, and fast all of the Ramadan and even the extra fasting days along the year. He started harassing two women who were standing in the street looking for a taxi. He slowed down next to wear they stood, he opened his window, and dropped a sleazy comment.

I shouted at him of what he is doing and how he could do something like that. He said that they have provoked him of what they were dressing! For the record, they were dressing very normal, a shirt and a jeans like any other girl in Amman wears. We argued a bit and so I realized that he feels that they have asked for it by wearing such clothes.

While things may have been slightly changes in the past couple of years. It is still very disturbing for a woman to walk alone in the streets of Amman. I don’t know how long it would take for this to change, but I certainly support any potential law to enforce more protection for Jordanian’s women in the country streets. Young harassers should be aware that they can’t always get away with it. Jordanian women have a right to feel secure in the streets of Amman as well.

33 thoughts on “Jordanian women and sexual street harassers

  1. Its great to see it from a man’s perspective. I get harrassed daily walking from my car to my office building. I am not veiled but i do not wear revealing clothing, unless people consider jeans and a sweater to be revealing. I dont know what men think they will get out of yelling at us like horny apes. I once had to stop and yell and a man and ask him if he would like the same to be done to his mother or sister.. he then apologised. Just because women dress nicely it doesnt mean we like to be harrassed. But as a woman i have to say that a woman who likes to show a lot of cleavage is asking for it ( sorry ladies)

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  2. Nas says:

    Well fadi it is a problem that we have in jordan but i think as you said the main root of this is sexual frustration that our jordanian community forces on us. i mean relationships between men and women are still unacceptable(before marriage) even though they do happen but still in a very descrete and annoying way. this drives the young men to do things that they know are wrong but like to do them as a kind of a relief from this frustration.I mean this doesnt happen abroad or at least not in a dirty sleezy way and i do believe its getting worse i heard many stories of men harassing girls going out of cafes and bars and not just verbally so it is a social problem.

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  3. Suha says:

    Definition of sexual harassment in Amman:– Ugly poor east ammani guy with no car making a pass or leering or gesturing to a west ammani girl. Definition of potential boy friend:– Good looking west ammani guy with nice car making a pass or leering or gesturing to a west ammani girl.

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  4. Zebra, bravo, every woman should do what you did and stand for herself. I know that it isnt easy. Most don’t like to make a scene or go into a trouble if the guy turned out to be really bad. But I disagree with you about how much a woman can wear. It is a personal preference and shouldn’t be an excuse for men to harass her. Nas, yes it is a real problem. I guess that you are right, sexual deprivation has to do a big part of it. Suha, this is not true. Anyone man following a woman either in his mercedes or on his feet is considered to be a sexual harasser. It has nothing to do with classes.

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  5. When there is harrassment,it is to all.. she could be a teenager, a woman with kids or anybody. They don’t care if she was even with hijab. And there are times where ladies ask for it. I think there are cases of the female male harassment but i never heard of any until now🙂Even if there were rules or laws for this, I think this will be an issue unless the people who harrassing other get aware of what they are doing.. how ugly and worthless they become.. This is the difference between a well behaved person and not behaved.

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  6. Arab Lady says:

    Personally I don’t know what makes men respect a veiled woman over her counterparts. Why she should hide her self under a tent..such a mentality just confirms that she is treated like an item or commodity trying to hide her self so she doesn’t evoke man’s sexual desire… by the way so sorry that u r not single…man u really broke my heart!@Suhaw r calling for Unity & u r still talking about west, south north amani

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  7. Sexual deprivation isn’t an excuse in my book. Sexual drive can be racheted up or down based on what men (and women) choose to look at and think about. Boys and men are not taught anything about self-control.Like Zebra showed, a little wake-up call can turn a man’s objective fantasy into a human sister again. Don’t think everyone in the West has as much sex as it seems.Suha, even if it was a little naughty, the comment was sadly, ironicly funny funny!I’m a middle-aged woman, always with a carful of kids, and I get harassed all the time at stop lights (I don’t even bother walking anywhere anymore). My boys notice it and give me ‘jerk-alerts’: THEY give the guys the ‘shu malak?’ glance an inoffensive ‘buzz-off’ hand gesture so I dont’ have to deal with it.😀What grosses me out is guys who take your picture with their phones. I can’t STAND the thought they have my face on their phone.

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  8. arablady, you are sweet. I am sure you’ll find the person who deserves you🙂I find it absurd to respect/disrespect a woman based on the amount of clothes she puts on. Mrs Al Ramahi, the problem is that this behaviour is so common among young men. People don’t really look down on men doing so as much as they look down on the women who wears less clothes according to their own standards.Kinzi, yes sexual deprivation isn’t an excuse, but I think that it can trigger more intense feelings that pushes those young men to express it in such way that is quite acceptable among the men community. I am so sorry to hear what you are going through especially that your kids are involved in it. I will tell you that it must affects them big time. Try not to make a big deal infront of your kids. Don’t freak out, and don’t get mad because it would affect them more.

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  9. Excellent post, even though I’m not really optimistic to see it disappearing from our streets before we solve the sexual frustration males have.You know, I was once inside a taxi, when I approached home the driver suddenly started screaming (literally!) shoo had! mish 7aram! you know the usual stuff, I had no idea why this moron is screaming, I searched the street to see if miss universe is walking naked near my house or what! but found nothing but a poor VEILED girl wearing a shirt and barely “tight” jeans, I couldn’t but burst into laughter, the guy didn’t even notice me as he was shouting, an evil thought crossed my mind, I turned at him and said:” hey hey, that’s my sister!”, (I don’t actually have any sisters) he noticed me and stopped screaming with his face turning yellow, I said:”Why on earth are you screaming! she’s veiled ya zalameh!” he said”I’m really sorry, you know us drivers, we have no morals or sense”, I said “what would you do if you see a girl with a skirt? you’ll jump from the window and eat her a live” he said in a shy voice “maybe”, he then turned to me and said “listen man, I’m really sorry for what I said, but you know what, I’ve been trying to get married for the last two years but couldn’t afford the money, I won’t blame you if you hit me, but I tried to do it the right way and couldn’t!” I couldn’t really answer that! what’s the moral behind this story? I got a free ride!

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  10. this is what scares me about moving to Jordan. this past summer i even got thoe talteeshat from kids who are 12/13yo for god’s sake!! my husband is always telling me how i have to be mean, and talk in a stern voice to taxi drivers and others I meet in the mideast. It is hard since in canada a smile is just a smile..not a she wants me thing. and yeh I thought that now that I am a mom, walking around with a 2 small kids they would stop…but they do not..and I know alot of veiled girls who get the comments so it is not limited to no hijjabisu’d think that in a country where honour and girls reputation are everything blah blah blah…these things would not happen. it is pretty ironic. ok i could go on..because like every other woman out there this subject is very touchy to me…

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  11. عادل says:

    ya man🙂 i have no problem of a girl giving me a wink! It’s just she was god damn ugly. And the way she winked was so claustrophobic!🙂

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  12. Omar, what a funny story! That taxi driver deserves the scare you gave him. It always happens like this. When I used to take a taxi, I used to pray secretly that he won’t drop a comment by chance on some related woman that I know where I would have to step up and make a scene! Sam, yes, it does worry a lot of women here. I guess what you should do if you decide to come back to jordan is just ignore those comments and not make a big deal out of it untill some drastic changes happen in our society!

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  13. moh says:

    looooooool , ok am sorry i know it’s not funny , but am laughing about what happened to adel hehehehe .am a guy and i know how alot of guys think ,some of them think that girls are “asking for it” , they also think that they like the attention , they have no idea how this can effect women , but again , can you blame them !!! they are raised in a society where women are NOTHING , women are objects to look at and admire , and that’s why they disrespect women , i mean even in a family , the male (brother, father) have the right to say and do whatever he wants , last week when i was walking home from uni. i saw a 14-15 year old school boy shouting at his sister who is like 22-23 who btw wasn’t doing anything wrong .ok , a piece of advice to women : don’t be afraid to FIGHT BACK , shout back at them if you can , don’t just ignore it , because by ignoring it you’re actually making things worse

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  14. i just don’t let them go with it, once i threw my back pack on one guy, my friend said “fada7teena, you never know what he could say or do next, leish tnazli mustawaki la heik ashkal!” so i told her why should i not answer him back? if i let him go away with it, he will do it over and over, fight back, teach them that they can really get into trouble for doing so, and learn to protect yourself!!

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  15. It’s funny you mention this because i just wrote a post about this exact thing.I go to Jordan every other summer and I can tell you that although this kind of thing happens in every country I’ve been in, it happens a lot more in Arab countries. In Jordan especially, even though I’m not scared of these guys I choose to ignore them cause I think if I bring attention to him then he will get what he would have wanted, which is for me to look at him or whatever.The funny thing is I don’t hesitate to give the guy a dirty look or tell him off when I’m in Montreal but in Jordan I just can’t! Also when I’m in Jordan I actually wear slightly more covered up clothing than I do here just cause I know it garners unwanted losers. It’s unfortunate but no girl likes to feel self conscious, and if I even wear a tank top I feel like every man wants to jump on me.

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  16. Well,This not only happens in jordan, it happens everywhere in the world, even here in the US, it depends on where you are “walking” some streets nobody will even bother to look at you while in other streets if a guy smells a female he will go crazy… Relegion plays an important role regarding this issue, I am against women being forced to wear hijab, but hijab is for her own protection that what god said, but ultimatly it is her choice..Another thing is that amman became bigger and bigger, the tribal mentality began to disappear, before you couldn’t comment on a girl because you don’t know what her familt will do if she tells them..Big changes are taking effect in the jordanian community, and this is just a part of it..

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  17. adel, lol, that was fun man😉Mohammad, don’t be sorry, it was funny, I even laughed when I knew why he was so outraged😛. I advice women to fight back as you say as well.Tala, bravo, that is what all women should do. If they did, maybe men would start behaving better.Dandoon, I am sorry that you cant feel the same freedom in Jordan you feel in Canada. Mohannad Al Arabyat, sometimes even hijab cannot protect a woman. For instance take a girl who only wears a hijab in saudia, they would consider her less moral than the majority who wears more. Hamede, I would think it is fun as well🙂

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  18. redrose says:

    Observer I am glad that you raise this matter and I wanted somebody to talk about since long time.1. Before couple of years I received physical sexual harassment by a teen rude ill psychological guy in the street in my way to home..he waits girls in the narrow hidden streets to touch their bodies while no one in the street, He used to do that with school girls also.. what I did? I was totally shocked just screaming!! Then I insisted to take my right and I went to the 8th Police Centre to complain officially about him and you can imagine how the police men took this ridiculously looking at me men fo2 la ta7at even I don’t wear any revealing clothes and their mentality saying how she can come here to and tell us what happened coz u have to say exactly the oral sexual harassment you received also, my sister is a journalist and she was with me and yes I did it and complained about him. But awfully the police centre didn’t make any single effort to find him and the matter went away.2. The sexual harassment is ONE even you received 2ish ya 7ilu / saba7 el foll OR 2ish hal..&^%##@!I don’t like to classify this and as Suha said accept from flashy cool Abdouni guy and ya3 from poor one..it’s bad in all situations.3. I was telling my sis. the other day while walking why men comment on our physical appearance rudely and they (male) &we (females) don’t do for men..I see matlan very skinny guys and I can make fun of them in the street like they address some girls..shu ya 3ud or ya 3assay! Who gives them this right (ta yestauto 7et el girls) why they don’t say this to all walkers matlan if they really liked to be rude and still saying such disgusting comments.4. I think the problem that many girls Keep SILENT and this is very harmful matters coz I can protect myself as an adult girl but many couldn’t and it can lead to many psychological issues.Thanks for God I have family can discuss this with understanding at home and wish to see many like this not to keep Shut UP!

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  19. RedRose, thanks for sharing with us your story. I am sorry of what happened to you, and feel angry now on the policemen and how they handled the situation. You are right, women should start standing up for themselves. People should start taking action in this matter. We should raise our voices to the government to do anything about it. It affects every woman in this country!

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  20. Red Rose this is exactly what i wanted to say but i didn’t know how, this psycho who hides in narrow streets and waits till nobody is there and just physically touches girls was in our neighborhood, and he relies that they won’t go tell their parents that something happened, it happened with a friend who lives nearby and my sister was with her, she just had the power to push him away and grab him from the throat and about to punch him, but he ran away, remember they were two. they managed to fight back but after that, she just froze and started crying out of the shock and when they got to our place, we told my father and he went after him and he actually found him, he said it was a mistake and he wants to enter the mosque “yistaghfer rabbo”.. since that happened i learned to fight back in full strength and you should prepare yourself like learning some self defense techniques. no matter where you were, you need that.

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  21. Husams says:

    “Yistaghfer rabbo” !!! Sho dakhal rabbo! Yrou7 yistaghfer those girls who he attacked if he is serious.The observer as usual you said my mind. Even the co-worker story happened with me! I didn’t read all the comments but I would like to point out one issue, women are trying to defend them selves by saying they didn’t wear revealing clothes nevertheless they are being harassed. It reflects saying wearing revealing clothes give men the right to harass you. As if you are saying holding more money in your pocket give others the right to rob you.

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  22. as a guy who used to live in Amman I didnt like to drop comment on a girl even if she is wearing like half naked that is her problem not mine..guys the issue is so simple unfortunatily I have dealt with lot of youth in Amman , Egypt,UAE,KSA,Kuwait,Qatar,Palestine the cotnradiction between what u have been taught, what do u see in media, what do u know in ur relegion ,what do u learn from ur traditions(old traditions) is like that big that would form no kind of healthy behaviour .then the culture of mobs starts to evolve.these guys set for hours in Jbal el 7ussein drinking gahweh smoking viceroy and tryin to create some kind of an attitude why for various reasons:1.No jobs.2.No Education.3.Low payment.4.A government that make u feel u r a paraside.5.Disabled parents who is really isolated from these teenagers.6.Mob culture that encourage them.7.racism that is well deployed in our society.see guys am not gonna go the other way around and say the women r free to wear whatever they like …common guys we r still oriental society that have a certain shape of mentality that we have to respect I know that the reason for 60% of you r blogging is their outrage of this mentality but we have to respect what we r to know how to deal with bad stuff that r happening in our streets..am not a conservative and am not anti islamic I believe everyone would do whatever they like and say what they like but to a certain extent dont over exaggerate when u r on a side or another.now the problem with those youth is that they r brought on no ethics no objective no vision no respect.. so for them it is easy to imitate the ansistors traditions but without having any ethics and that is the problem a majority of them thinks that they r defending the culture by doing this by imposing on other ppl not to feel free in doing what they believe which contradicts with their believe some of them do it becoz their twisted minds think that gurls like to be flattered or to hear something nice.guys we r talking about a big majority of bachelors who is in their explosion of hormons that dont have any athletic activities dont have any real respect to society.not able to get married.no money no dreams no visionam not defending them but am explaining what they r it is not their fault that they have no ethics no mentality it is the whole society becoz when ethics goes dont expect that such things wont happen.for the ladies I herby appologize from what is happening in the streets i have sisters and cousins and friends that I dont like them to get hurt and I personally engaged in a lot of physical battles with guys like that in the past .but ladies common lets be realistic ya3nee u think if u go down to jabal el hussein and walk between those mobs that have no ethics while wearing something maybe would provoke their bad attitude do u think it is logical?these guys wont disappear believe me they r the bad product of the severe contradicitions we have in our society so the solution is either to avoid going to such places or to wear something that wouldnt provoke those “zo3ran” so ur brother or ur relative that walks beside you can return home safe not with broken nose or high BP bel 3arabee er7amoo la 3azeeza qawmen zal:)Zebra ur quote is the bestfinally guys the only solution for this is to give those guys a real opertunity to be back as humans whatever they do is a result of their frustration and no objective in life .If a law would enforce those guys to respect women .then also the same should be applied for women who sometimes have fun in just provoking ppl lusts and desires.also a law should be applied on ppl who tries to make parties infront of mosques while there is a prayer going on.People who r smoking and swearing at god 3alanan in a very low way even in Ramadan.People who says vieled woman r a box of potato or ppl that categorize ppl 3ala asas enhom 7afartal o dooon.Racist ppl who says u r palestenian or u r jordanian or whatever ma3enoo aselna wa7ad mafee fare2 Respect Respect Respect each other point of view and try to be considerative is the solution for all this crap

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  23. Tala, oh my god! who is this phsycho?! Didn’t anyone do anything about that? If not the police, the men in the neighbourhood! Husams, you are right, it isn’t the problem of the women and what they wear, it is the problem of the guys themselves. We should give them no such excuse.Tiger, wow, what a long reply. I agree with you on what you said regarding these guys being the product of a messed up society, but I don’t agree with what you said about enforcing other laws that are not related to this issue. We are here talking about personal freedom. You stated many other cases which need seperate posts to discuss.

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  24. Observer it is some how relatedbecause personal freedom is a right that everyone should have as long they r not affecting others….3awdtan bel mathal el qadeem tantahee 7oreyatak 3endma tabda2 7oreyat el a’7reen..other ppl freedom consists of :1.Girls can walk safe to home without any mob harrasments2.Society not to be imposed to have a diffrent culture than it already has meaning if u belive in western culture that is ok no problem but dont try to impose it on others and dont try to say that you are the ultimate right either u r an islamist,orientalist,or pro western .3.the right to pray freely(whatever relegion they are)normally without annoyment either from police or from people(some youth do that by the way not necessary in Jordan but in certain areas in UAE Jumeriah area in dubai as an example).4.the freedom of wearing a veil of hijab for girls who likes to without being categorized as shwal ba6a6a.5.No girls who wears modern style would be categorized as a**** (women have the right to wear whatever they like but please to a certain extent okay).6.No categorizing for ppl like hadool fala7een wela 7afartal because they live poor.plus I noticed one thing in all arab society each one of us like to comment on others in a negative way so this harrasment could be considered onther types of comments but in an ceviliezed approach

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  25. redrose says:

    Dear TalaI think you are talking about the same guy who hides in the hidden back streets in the region … he sucks. My sisters also encountered him. His rudeness beyond humanitarian nature..sorry but he shows his sexual part in the street and does not fear to trace the sexual harassment anytime anywhere even If you are beneath your home!My older sister bet him indeed she is strong in such cases, my dad couldn’t catch him but I am glad that another family did.Don’t tell me about stupid police men there! Totally Ignorant!As you said I have to learn how to protect myself by own self and to avoid such streets.But what hurts me to let this stupid ill psycho guy prevent me from my daily tour walking to my home instead picking up a taxi! You know I have such phobia sometimes when someone walk closely behind me or if I met a teen guy alone in the street I imagine that he want to hurt me !But now it’s okay and I think the government should establish special divisions with an experts to deal with such cases. Be fine dear.

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  26. فرانسيس says:

    Very interesting post and comments. As an American woman living in Amman, I’ve gone around and around about this. Not long after I moved here a man followed me several mornings in a row as I walked to the University. One morning he actually put his hand on my shoulder, which totally took me by surprise; I never expected that here. I freaked out and whirled around and socked him in the face. This surprised him as much as me, and he ended up on his bum. I felt no regret, and never saw him again. Since then men have only said things to me. I used to always yell at them, but then I remembered something a friend told me before I got married. She said that for some men fighting is as good as sex, meaning that yelling at them is in part feeding their desires. On the other hand, sometimes I really can’t help but draw attention to their bad behavior. This month I’m ignoring them, but who knows maybe next month I’ll argue again. Still, I feel safer here than I do in the States, and I don’t let the men prevent me from going out and eating alone or going for a walk. Everything is a trade off. Like it or not…

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  27. Hey Frances, I am sorry of what you have gone through! I am not sure what is the best way to deal with those men! I guess you know how to handle it as you have stated. Wish you the best in your life in Jordan🙂and welcome to my blog…

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  28. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I am an American/European woman that recently visited a male friend in Amman. I found your site very interestng, now I understand why my friend did not want me to go out alone.

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  29. The basic premise is wrong. People should be treated as equals not as subservient.< HREF="http://penis-enlargement-surgery.penisdoctor.org/directory.html" REL="nofollow">john<>

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  30. Anonymous says:

    If you think Amman is bad wait til you experience Aqaba! Despite being a tourist town, apparently men there aren’t used to seeing women at all, clothed or otherwise. And I am talking about native Aqabawis. My wife and my sister suffered alot in Aqaba, to the point that my American wife (I am Jordanian) did not want to go out anymore. She didn’t mind any other town in Jordan.

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