Friday, November 23, 2012

Jordanian Professor Fired Over Sexual Harassment Video

Sexual harassment is rampant in Middle Eastern culture. In Egypt women deal with it on a daily basis, in spite of the fact most women there now wear the Islamic veil. Perhaps much of that has to do with women being considered objects in those male-dominated, chauvinistic societies. Yes, it exists in the West but nowhere to the extent it does over there. In the U.S. it can occur in the workplace- I have worked on enough industrial films dealing with that subject to know it does happen- but you don't usually encounter harassment on the street.

So some female students at the University of Jordan Khleif al-Tawarneh, under the supervision of their Feminist Theory professor Rula Quawas produced a video dealing with the subject of sexual harassment on university campuses. The pretty innocuous video posted on Youtube, and the subsequent furor it created, led to the firing of Quawas, the much loved dean of  the School of Foreign Languages.

Critics accused the film makers of “promoting vice and stripping the society of its values.”
Not surprising that they would fry the messenger, since the males obviously don't consider their actions to be offensive.

President Ikhleif Tarawneh said she was fired because the video tarnished the reputation of the university, others believe it was "an act of vengeance."

Dismissal of the Feminist Theory’s professor angered activists, journalists, writers, and students. Several campaigns were launched to express solidarity with her and in which she was praised for making a film that raises awareness about sexual harassment. 
Tawarneh claims it had nothing to do with the video, but rather  an administrative prerogative. Others disagree:

But the Committee for Academic Freedoms at the University of Middle East Studies in Jordan rejected Tawarneh’s claims and said there were no documents proving Qawas’s negligence or weak performance, the decision could not have been administrative. The timing showed that the film was the reason for her dismissal, the committee added. 
The Cairo-based Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said Qawas’s dismissal constituted “a flagrant violation of freedom of expression and academic research,” and accused Tawarneh of persecuting her.

Rather than deal with what is evidently a chronic problem on his campus, Tawarneh fired the one person inspiring others to fight it. This will only encourage the bad boys to continue their harassment. Typical.

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