objecDEFY harassment in Jordan & beyond

There is a lot of anti-street harassment activism occurring in the Middle East region, from anti-harassment cartoon character Salwa in Lebanon to pending anti-harassment legislation in Egypt. Today I learned about objecDEFY, a grassroots anti-harassment group based in Jordan. From their website:

“objecDEFY Harassment is a tool that empowers women to object to and defy harassment. This Jordan-based proactive grass roots initiative, designed to trigger and perpetuate behavioural change, is made up of a series of public service announcements (PSA), a documentary film, and a series of regional workshops.

objecDEFY Harassment is an expression by and on behalf of women who are being harassed. By expressing their cultural concerns, objecDEFY Harassment itself becomes a cultural tool that unifies, empowers, and implements while continuously reinforcing a regional and global message: the power to curb harassment lives in the power of women.”

You can read two recent powerful articles about their work. Here is an excerpt from one of them:

“We were always taught to ignore street harassment:

‘If you tell him off, he will feel self-gratified since you acknowledged his existence. He doesn’t care if your reaction to his catcalls are positive or negative, as long as you make him feel he exists. Just ignore him. Stare straight ahead. Walk it off.’

I listened to my elders and followed the technique above until one day many years back I just couldn’t shut up anymore.

That day, in my coldest, calmest voice, I stopped dead in my tracks across from a group of sneering construction men and told them to have some self respect or I will call the cops.

They were shocked.

From the looks on their faces that day, I realized that they were used to their lewd remarks being unacknowledged. Ignored. Mtanasheen. If no one tells you its wrong, how would you know?

Immediately, they turned their backs and furiously went back to work, embarrassed.

I have never kept my mouth shut after that incident. And it works every time.”

Right on!

And check out their PSAs. Here is one of them (in English):

I am very heartened to learn about their work!

2 Responses to objecDEFY harassment in Jordan & beyond

  1. that is such great news. And what a brave woman to not remain silent. I am in south beach florida right now and I am staying in a nice hotel across from the beach where I stay every year. It appears that the nearest street corner has become a hang out for men, vagrant types, and every time i walk past I get cat called and whistled at. Last night when it was dark I ignored them and hurried on to my hotel room, glad for the 24 hour security and double locks. Today mid-day it just happened again and I ignored them. But i hope tomorrow I will be brave like that woman and tell them to leave me alone or I will call the police. I’m pissed I can’t even get to the beach without passing them!

  2. I’m sorry this is happening! How frustrating to not be able to go to the beach without harassment. Yes, if you feel up to it, I encourage you to issue a report to the police saying they have harassed you two days in a row and take a picture if you can, too. Also, if they are in front of a store or restaurant, you may consider telling them that men are congregating outside harassing women – their potential customers.

    I know it can be scary to do something, but if it helps, think about all the other women they are probably harassing too!

    I’d love to know what happens

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