On Monday, it was reported that a three year old in east Amman was kidnapped in the early morning with the kidnapper demanding 50,000JDs as a ransom. Ammon is reporting this as the first case of its kind in Jordanian history. Supposedly, the kidnapper had some sort of financial dispute with the grandfather in the field of 12,000JDs but the grandfather denied knowing him.
Interestingly enough, it took the police in east Amman only several hours to get the girl back to her family by the end of the day. I have to admit, that’s pretty impressive, no?
Crimes in the past two years or so, are becoming incredibly unique in their nature. Putting the traditional honor crimes aside, many crimes that we never thought could happen in Jordan are beginning to evolve, with many seemingly financially-driven. And in part, I feel that these crimes are relative to the dire financial status people are having to endure these past few weeks, months and years.
When I was a child, Jordan was deemed as a safe haven. I’m not talking about international reputations or regional contrasts, but on a social level. Jordanians percieved their streets and neighborhoods to be safe, if not innocent. And so kids could be seen playing hide-and-go-seek at 11pm or football after dinner. It’s symbolic. It really is a social measurement of how safety is percieved.
Today, things are different.
Yeah, sure, kids don’t play outside as often as they used to, what with all the Sony playboxes and Internets. Nevertheless, there’s something to be said about changing social attitudes. I’ve seen people installing several deadbolt locks on their door, compulsively checking to make sure things are all locked up before retiring for the night. People used to keep their doors open before. Not unclocked, but wide open. At least, these are my memories of a Jordan in the early 90’s.
Parental attitudes have changed. Personal attitudes have changed. The feeling of Jordan, and specifically Amman, being a completely crime-free, safe zone is eroding. And comparitvely, both the capital and country are much better than their regional counterparts. Nevertheless, I can’t help but observe those changing attitudes. Sometimes I wonder if these crimes were taking place all the time but just under-reported, which is a distinct possibility that I was reminded of when reading that Ammon headline today. But somehow I feel there’s a slim chance of that happening considering the public and the media’s shared love for crime-related stories.
But to highlight my point:
Recently, an Egyptian man who had been working in a Jordanian factory since 1994, killed his boss, cutting off his legs and arms, after he refused to raise his salary. Another Egyptian man in a story I blogged about recently, killed a young Jordanian woman, just to rob her store of a couple of cell phones and SIM cards.
In another case, a West Bank resident who had financial problems with a Jordanian man, killed him and his wife in front of their child in Amman. Meanwhile, a 29-year old killed his tailor after discovering he had been cheated for 30JDs.
One burglar robbed so many homes in west Amman that when he was finally caught, the total amount of gold he had stolen amounted to 500,000JDs.
Other crimes seem to center around love and jealousy, with a slew of murders happening in the past few years revolving around a 20-something year old killing or raping a girl he claims to be in love with, or killing someone else for getting in the way.
And yes, honor crimes are still a big deal.
On December 1st, a 21-year-old man received seven-and-a-half-years for murdering his married sister in Jerash, and the very next day, a 42-year-old man also received seven-and-a-half-years imprisonment for murdering his married niece, in front of the Deir Alla governorâ€™s office no less. The day after that, December 3rd, a 32-year-old man received three years and nine months after attempting to murder his married sister in the name of family honor. He stabbed her several times but she managed to survive while he was busy turning himself in.
It is possible that these crimes were all together unreported years ago, but I’m more inclined to believe that crime has simply increased in Jordan.
My parents are always making me check to lock the doors and I do so reluctantly because I’ve never experienced crime, and more importantly, never felt there was a reason to be afraid in Jordan. I never even understood the need for people to put up all those steel window guards on their homes. Interestingly enough, my parents recently told me that a number of apartments in the neighborhood have been robbed and so now I’m beginning to subconsciously check the doors.
Moreover, I am also under the impression (which might be completely off) that increased poverty tends to push people to their more conservative and/or extremist tendencies, which may impact the rise in related crimes like those pertaining to honor.
I could be wrong about this whole connection between a tougher financial situation and a subsequent rise in crime, but in the meantime, I’m still going to check that my doors are locked at night.