Facts & Findings: Silent sexual harassment in the Jordanian workplace


Published: 2018-11-25 16:12

Last Updated: 2024-05-23 20:59

ARDD surveyed more than 400 women aged between 18-50 years. (Roya)
ARDD surveyed more than 400 women aged between 18-50 years. (Roya)

The Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) released a very important report last week on sexual harassment in the Jordanian workplace.

The “Silent Women: an ARDD report on harassment in the workplace” report came out just in time to celebrate the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, which runs from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until 10 December, Human Rights Day.

For the report, ARDD analyzed the data of 3,077 women (1,466 Jordanian women and 1,611 Syrian refugee women) who seeked legal consultation from the organization on common practices in the workplace, and the data of 861 women (265 Jordanian women and 596 Syrian refugee women) who seeked legal advice on labour rights.

As well as analyzing data, ARDD surveyed more than 400 women aged between 18-50 years.

The women who participated in the study were some of the most vulnerable Syrian refugee and host community women, including Jordanians and other refugees present prior to the Syrian Crisis.

The women were either facing economic vulnerability, as female heads of households, living in poverty, or at risk of debt; faced particularly low access to services; had previously applied for a loan or work permit or had previously faced harassment in connection with pursuing work opportunities.


Of women who sought legal consultations or pursued cases with ARDD for workplace matters, 52% of Jordanian women and 73% of Syrian refugee women informally reported experiencing sexual harassment at work.

The findings showed that 75% of the Jordanian women interviewed for the study, and 78% of the Syrian refugee women interviewed said that they did not consider taking legal action against their harasser.

Due to a lack in faith in the system, 8.2% of Jordanian women and 12% of Syrian women said that they didn’t report their harasser because they were convinced that nothing would come out of it.

Women’s data collected from the surveys and legal consultations made it clear that laws are neither working to prevent sexual harassment, nor to support women in reporting it.

Meanwhile, 8.2% of Jordanian women and 4.3% of Syrian women stayed quiet out of fear of losing their job, while 8.2% of Jordanian women and 10.3% of Syrian women did not file a complaint because they feared that things would get worse for them in the workplace.

Samar Muhareb, Head of ARDD, said that the women interviewed noted that verbal and non-verbal harassment were the most common types of harassment, including having their male colleagues or employers touching them unwillingly.

Other types of harassment included being harassed by other women, which were not necessarily harassments of a sexual nature, but of a social discriminatory nature, such as stereotyping and judging them based on their gender.

On the other hand, the majority of participants (84.2% Jordanian women and 95% Syrian women) said that they were never sexually harassed in the workplace.


How does the Jordanian law protect women and encourage them to come forward when they've been harassed?

Thus, the rights of women who face ‘subtler’ forms of sexual harassment are unclear, with the term “degradation” open to interpretation. Furthermore, no existing laws compel employers to have written procedures on sexual harassment; thus the implementation of workplace sexual harassment policies that cover all forms of harassment is done at the will of the employer.