When I was younger, I had the typical patriarchal thoughts and Ideas; men were above women, they were responsible for them, they had to take care of them, and they got to choose what women can or can’t do. I thought that as a girl I always had to follow the orders of my dad, brother or any man in the family. I was tricked to believe that women are too emotional, weak and can’t be in control of anything without having a man by their side. As I grew older I saw how my mom would cook, clean, take care of us and work all at once! She was up from dawn and would stay working until we were all asleep, whereas my dad would just go to work, occasionally take us to the park, then go to sleep whenever he wanted. So it got me thinking: if women are weak then how can they do everything that men can do and more? If women are too emotional then how are they able to keep working and giving even in the hardest times? And if women can’t be in control then how are they holding up the entire house, usually alone?
So, although society is being held up by the women in one way or another, men still have the mentality that they are above and in power, and continue to take credit for our work. So since men can do what they please, they start using their powers in a wrong way, and that is where sexual assault comes in the picture. Patriarchal violence is a big deal, so where are all the headlines?
Being in Jordan, which is a conservative country, it’s unacceptable to say that we have an assault problem like the West, where in reality we do. We are drowning in our ignorance, and the problem is becoming worse and worse. And even when we do accept it as a problem, an even bigger problem arises; the female will always be blamed! People will say: “she was probably out late; she was probably hanging out with the wrong people; and she was probably wearing inappropriate clothes”. She will also be seen as a disgrace for the family name, and the family honor will be gone! When you see all this misjudgment it’s only normal for most girls not to report sexual assaults; the fear of community trash talk will keep her quiet in her pain, sorrow and agony.
Another huge problem is the reality that most of the time; the perpetrator is a family member or someone familiar to the victim. This makes it even harder for the victims to report, because they have to see that same person over and over again.
I used to be just like everybody else; thinking that our society doesn’t have a problem and this isn’t a subject we should be talking about, but recently I have been noticing, hearing, and realizing that it really is a problem and we really do need to talk about it and work on fixing it. It aches my heart to actually know someone who was sexually abused from someone very close to her and her suffering in not being able to tell anyone because of the stigma and denial. I am sure there are many others just like her!
Recently I attended a discussion event about a law in Jordan that allows the rapist to marry the girl he raped in order for all charges to be drop! I am furious to hear such a ridiculous law exists in my country and how marriage has become a way out of punishment!
All of this got me really dedicated to getting more involved in the subject. So I will stand up to this, and raise awareness.
So I ask you this: when are you going to get involved?
Ala Abojaradeh is a fifth year medical student, director of the Jordan Chapter of Life in My Days and an active member in the International Federation Medical Students Association IFMSA. She hopes to one day be a doctor that truly represents humanity, treating people as humans before they are patients.