I think for anyone who’s been following the news lately – heck, anyone who has been remotely alive in some way, has probably already concluded that August has been a tough month when it comes to crime. Especially violent crimes. It seems everyday there is one report after another about the latest murder or tribal conflict or honor crime or suicide attempt. There’s even one story warning citizens to be on the lookout for thieves dressed in female clothing that includes the niqab; a seemingly perfect disguise. Yesterday, a tenant killed his landlord supposedly over quarrels regarding money. What’s going on? 16 killings in four weeks?
Once again, as I said several months ago, many of these crimes seem to be money-related or financially and economically-driven in one way or another. Unfortunately, the status quo has not improved since.
There is something seriously wrong with this picture. If anything, we are getting one of the worst indicators of the global financial crisis’ impact on a developing nation such as Jordan: a rise in crime. More unemployment, tougher financial situations, greater poverty, all of this is being translated to an increase in crime. There has been little relief and practically no escape from the crisis, especially with bank credit being all but dried up.
It is a situation that has been worsened with the so-called matrix (or bourse) scandal that saw everyday Jordanians losing millions and millions of dinars in a single blow.
And the crimes are still baffling, if not unprecedented. Many of us are still left wondering why a 37-year-old Jordanian pharmacist from a middle class area like Rabia, killed his wife, his two kids and then himself. Or how, apparently, 16 professors at the University of Jordan got suspended for misbehavior, which translates to: they were taking advantage of their female students in return for grades. (note: the source looks legitimate despite it not being mentioned in the mainstream media; either way it wouldn’t be the first time).
And the situation may continue to get darker before we see any light. UNRWA funding is drying up in the refugee camps. The state’s disgusting endorsement of the landlords and tenants law (they should be ashamed of themselves). The spiraling prices of goods facing boycotts.
This is to say nothing of the numerous stories I hear on a day-to-day basis from random people. Stories that take place in their own neighborhoods, involving people they know. To what extent are these stories true, I don’t know. Nevertheless, they are indicative of a larger problem: people are nervous. Many are afraid, even more are confused about the state of their country. Fear has become an increasingly significant player on the social front, whether we like it or not. We may continue to tout that Jordan is a “safe haven”, and perhaps comparatively, given the region we live in, that may be true – there are new realities taking shape on-the-ground and people seem to be aware of it more and more everyday.
This is not to say that all crimes taking place in Jordan are to be painted in a monochrome light, that is, being economically or financially-driven. I am sure that many fall beyond the folds of financial woes, and some are just plain old typical Jordanian crimes. However, from where I sit, it does seem to me that the economic situation in the country has massively helped create an unprecedented culture of violence and crime in Jordan, one that has placed finances at the heart of the motives that drive these crimes.
But that’s just my two piasters.