Cops urge wo­m­ento re­port ha­rass­ment

Study finds most have been vic­tims but po­lice say few come for­ward

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Ali Al Shouk and Shab­nam Bashiri @7DAYSUAE

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.”

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