This week, the body of a young boy was found in an abandoned warehouse in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
The news spread quickly; a Syrian child had been kidnapped while sitting outside his house at night.
The kidnapper is reported to have been a family friend, someone who knew the child well. He was taken to an empty location where he was raped and murdered.
His family had relocated from Syria to Jabal Hussein in Amman, to escape the war. He was reportedly only seven years old. He was a refugee. His name was Ahmad.
A man was apprehended by the police and is believed to be the perpetrator of the crime. Jordanian newspaper, Al-Ghad, reported that he acted alone.
Though his identity remains unclear, rumors point that he is a religious man who teaches the Quran, however, these claims remain unverified.
As the news spread, people took to social media to air their grievances.
According to public security directorate and the national center for forensic medicine, there are over 600 cases of child sexual assault each year in Jordan.
In 2009, the Family Protection Department received over 6000 reported cases of abuse against women and children; of 565 cases referred to court, 82 percent were related to sexual abuse of children.
Jordanian law dictates the following on the issue of child sexual abuse; raping a girl under the age of 15 warrants the death penalty, sexual abuse of female children between the ages of 15 and 18 can lead to 10 years of prison and hard labour, and 7 years of prison and hard labour for sexually molesting children under the age of 15 regardless of the victim’s gender.
Many feel that these consequences are not harsh enough and domestic violence activists are working to reform loopholes in the system and bring justice to young victims.
This represents only a small sampling of sexual violence in Jordan. In the case of Ahmad, the fact that he’s a Syrian refugee makes him even more vulnerable.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are over 660,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan as of 2017.
Popular television host, Lama Oggad, wrote a post on Facebook mourning the child, while analyzing societal reactions from an intersectional feminist lens. She called out the blatant hypocrisy in which some Jordanian men blame women for the reason they’re sexually violated.
“Two days ago, in #Jordan, we were struck with a video posted by a Jordanian journalist in which he attacked the choice of dress of Jordanian and Arab women harshly and without shame. He applauded an individual who hit a woman in Turkey because she was wearing shorts during Ramadan and he encouraged more violence against women whom he deems are dressed inappropriately… The silver lining of this video is that this individual has highlighted an important yet dangerous issue in our society, giving us the true picture of how we suffer from hateful attitudes towards women… Manhood in our sick society revolves around controlling and demeaning women… But this is not today’s issue.
Our issue today stems from the fact that after this misogynistic video was posted, and lauded by many Arab men and some odd women, a 7-year-old boy was kidnapped, molested and raped in an abandoned home. Ahmad’s throat was slit shortly thereafter in #Amman. So, I ask this society that’s overly concerned with the way women dress … why was this boy raped?
Was it his scandalous clothes? His charms? His attractiveness? Are women’s clothing to blame here too? Can someone please tell us? [Someone advise] what is the suitable way to control sexual harassment in our Arab societies that turn these men into animals par excellence? What law, what religion stops such people? It seems there is no solution.
Poor Ahmad, how he was tortured… Imagine what he must have went through before he was killed… He fled the war in Syria only so that he could be abused and killed in Jordan… God’s mercy be upon you Ahmad… Unfortunately you are not the first and you certainly won’t be the last if we continue on this path…”
More users expressed their frustrations online. One Syrian user commented in desperation at the continuous tragedies that Syrian refugees continue to face.
“Why has our Syrian blood become so cheap… God punish the oppressors.”
“God curse him (the criminal)… The King should order a public execution. To our Syrian brothers, the Jordanian people stand with you.”
Users stressed the need for severe punishment and reiterated solidarity with Syrian refugees.
“I want to say to our Syrian brothers that we are of the same blood… this criminal must be executed because if he isn’t it will send a message that this sort of crime is normal and more people will get away with such crimes.”
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