Cops urge womento report harassment
Study finds most have been victims but police say few come forward
Dubai Police have urged women to report any form of street harassment and assured the public that the offence is taken seriously.
The force issued the advice after a study by students at the Canadian University of Dubai found that three quarters of people interviewed had been whistled at, followed in the street or mall, been spoken to using vulgar language or been asked for their name or phone number.
It also found more than 40 per cent of the 60 subjects for the study did not realise such behaviour is an offence punishable by fines or even jail time.
A police spokesman told 7DAYS women should take a picture of someone if they think they may be following them to ensure the suspect can be tracked down.
The force also acknowledged that the offence goes under reported.
The spokesman said: “Many women do not report such crimes because they fear harming their reputation.
“But women should inform police about any sort of harassment in the street. They should write down plate numbers, yell or take a picture to assist the police in tracking the offender.”
Describing some of the cases, he said: “Harassing women can take many forms, a man stalking a woman in the street or mall, trying to slip their phone number in her bag or sticking it to the windscreen of a woman’s car.”
The spokesman added: “Women should alert police immediately, you can even go to a traffic police officer and they will help.” Dubai lawyer Yousef Al Bahar said that, under UAE law, someone convicted of harassment can face up to a year in jail or a fine of Dhs10,000. He said: “UAE Penal Code considers incidents of harassment – whether physical or verbal – as an offence and punishable by law. “We see many young men harassing women in malls, trying to get their attention, often because they have a lot of spare time on their hands.” If harassment becomes unwanted physical contact it may be classed as sexual assault, which can result in up to 15 years in prison and deportation. Al Bahar said the best way to scare off a harasser is ensuring passers-by know someone is harassing you. He said: “Look around you and speak out loudly so that people take notice of what is happening.”