Sally, who works as a belly dancer in one of the “night clubs” of Amman, goes every year to the Ministry of Health in order to undergo a medical exam in line with examination requirements for expatriates.
The exam is carried out in order to ensure that Sally did not contract one of the many “sexually transmitted diseases” in a country where the criminal law prohibits prostitution.
Despite the legal penalties, Sally has sexual intercourse with “customers” for a certain amount of money. She realizes that if she doesn’t use a condom during sexual intercourse, it could increase the risk of her contracting a sexually transmitted disease such as aids, syphilis, and gonorrhea. But similarly to her colleagues– all prostitutes– who were interviewed by this reporter, Sally does not mind not using a condom if the customer insists on it. However, in exchange, she asks for an additional charge.There are 91 clubs and bars in the capital Amman, employing around 1800 male and female employees from different nationalities. They work as waiters/waitresses, cleaners, or cooks.
Nine out of fifteen “prostitutes” told “Anti” they provide sex in exchange for amounts ranging between JD 100 and 200 per hour. The price will be increased if they do not use a condom.Standing on streetsLegal experts state that foreign prostitutes take advantage of the fact that there is no clause in the law that considers “their meetings” with customers at night club an offense. The same applies to their agreement to “meet” the customers in private homes.
There are no court statistics concerning the number of girls convicted of prostitution in Amman, says Jihad Jundi Al Ibadi, Attorney-General.
On the other hand, the spokesman for the Judiciary Council, Judge Jihad Al Atibi, confirms that night club owners cannot be convicted of “prostitution” charges for moral violation. But they can be convicted for the breach of “tourism law” which prohibits any kind of actions that are considered to be decadent in public.
Judge Al Atibi confirms that “prostitution” cases are distributed at courts of First Instance across the capital, which makes it impossible for them to be counted.
Sally, 27, states that she agrees “with the customer at the night club, and we meet the next day, either in my apartment or in any other place of his choice”.
Sally, who admits that the nightclub in which she works in is a place to meet “customers” for prostitution, doesn’t fear the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as aids saying that “I do regular check-ups at the Health Ministry’s Directorate for Expatriates”.
Sally, an Arab, considers prostitution to be a “profession” and a means of income. She became a prostitute after divorcing her husband four years ago.Education concerning the diseases Other girls refuse to have sexual intercourse with the clients unless they use a condom. Faten, who is a dancer in one of the
Education concerning the diseases Other girls refuse to have sexual intercourse with the clients unless they use a condom. Faten, who is a dancer in one of the
Other girls refuse to have sexual intercourse with the clients unless they use a condom. Faten, who is a dancer in one of the nightclubs, states that she insists on using a condom because she fears the contact of a sexually transmitted disease.
Faten doesn’t mind having orgies. But she insists on using a condom, a necessity according to the World Health Organization.
A 2006 survey conducted by Dr.Hussein al Khizaii, Professor of Sociology at Al Balqa’ University, on a sample of 96 women convicted of “prostitution” at Al Jwaida prison shows that the percentage of the prostitutes who use condoms during sexual intercourse is 44.6%. Furthermore, 80% of them said they would like to be educated on sexually transmitted diseases to help raise their awareness.
According to the study, 58.6% of people infected with aids (Jordanians and foreigners) of a total of 437 cases registered until March 2008, contracted the disease through sexual intercourse. According to the law, a security committee is formed in order to monitor the level of adherence of these night clubs and bars to ethics and morality on a regular basis. The Committee is formed by the Ministries of Health, Tourism, and Interior, as well as delegates from the Association of Touristic Restaurants – where night clubs and bars are listed.
However, the reality remains that the role of the security committee which monitors such night clubs is limited to referring violators to a committee at the Tourism Ministry, which then takes legal action against illegal night clubs, as stated by Mr. Saad Al Wadi Al Manaseer; the governor of Amman.
In order to ensure systematic monitoring, Mr. Kobaa emphasizes the importance of putting in place a recruitment process that must be observed by the owner of any touristic establishment, who seeks to employ a foreign male or female worker to fill the position of “waiter or waitress”– which is still considered a social taboo in Jordan.
The Ministry of Health’s Directorate for Expatriates is not able to issue a decision to shut down night clubs if it finds out that the latter owners have hired an employee infected with sexually transmitted diseases. Its role is limited to recommending to the Ministry of Interior the deportation of the infected person and/or persons if their infection is proven.
According to the records of the Ministry of Health, 100 expatriates were deported in 2006, including 14 girls who were infected with aids, and out of which three were working at night clubs.
In 2007, the same directorate found three female expatriates who were infected with aids.
According to Abu Ruman, the health Directorate of Expatriates is only responsible for expatriates who are sent over for medical examination. The directorate cannot monitor girls in the nightclubs or examine its employees.
The 2005-2009 national strategy against aids has identified several groups that are considered to be of “high risk”, amongst them prostitutes. Their main aim is to reach out to these groups in order to limit the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
According to Mr. Michel Nazzal, former president of the Jordan Tourism Board, night clubs are considered to offer “complementary services” that might be important for a tourist. He added that these “complementary services” are present in all countries, and they are important in order for the tourist to spend as much time as possible in the kingdom”. Around 1.7 million Arab tourists visited Jordan last year.
Monitoring RoleAl Manaseer, who chairs the security committee, states that ”the monitoring party which has the right to shut down these places is the Ministry of Tourism. Our role is to refer violators to the respective ministry.
Al Manaseer, who chairs the security committee, states that ”the monitoring party which has the right to shut down these places is the Ministry of Tourism. Our role is to refer violators to the respective ministry.
Dr. Khaled Abu Rumman, from the Ministry of Heath’s Directorate For Expatriates, admits that there are weaknesses in the method of monitoring night clubs.
Dr. Abu Rumman also points out that there are concentrated invasions against night clubs that are conducted by the Ministry of Tourism, but during high tourism seasons, these invasions diminish significantly.
Dr. Abu Rumman demands the implementation of continuous monitoring of female and male employees in night clubs, in addition to reducing the cycle of “mandatory” medical check ups which are performed once a year on every expatriate worker with a legal residency permit. His argument is that the incubation period for the aids virus is six months. He also wants his directorate to have the right to conduct medical tests at night clubs instead of bringing the workers over to the Directorate.
According to Dr. Abu Rumman, what renders the monitoring even more problematic is that “tricks” are being used in order to avoid medical examinations. He explains that “employees are leaving the country before the expiry date of their “tourist” visa to avoid being examined for sexually transmitted diseases. Dr. Abu Rumman further explains that the expatriate is evading monitoring because of loopholes in the law that allow a worker to renew his or her duration of stay for another three to six months if he or she decides to leave Jordan.
He is demanding, as is Mr. Kubaa, that these girls be examined every three months, whether they stay or leave.
Mr. Kubaa also affirms that the systematic monitoring is weakened because many owners of restaurants and nightclubs make contracts with expatriates based on tourist visas, instead of annual contracts that require legal residency permits.
On the other hand, Dr. Ahmed Hayajina, professor of Criminal Law at the University of Jordan confirms that the criminal law does not include a legal text concerning meetings in night clubs.
But the instructions of the security committee that monitors the work of these clubs forbids the “touching” of female employees in a way that is decadent to the public eye.
Al Hayajina states that sexual intercourse between two adults with mutual consent and which “doesn’t hurt public decency” doesn’t constitute a crime unless the operation is organized and managed under a brothel.
However, Islamic Law forbids all sexual practices which do not take place under a legal contract of marriage, as explained by Dr. Mohammad Abu Yehya, a professor of Jurisprudence in the Faculty of Law at the University of Jordan.
In the same context, it is a criminal offense if any person tries to lead a decent female who is under 20 to engage in any form of sexual intercourse or prostitution, whether it is inside or outside the country. If found guilty, culprits will get sentences ranging between 1 to 3 years, and a penalty from 5 to 50 Jordanian dinars– an equivalence of $75.
Additionally, the management(or helping with the management), preparation, and working in a brothel is considered a criminal offense. It is also an offense if an owner rents his house or allows its usage for such purposes. For that, the sentence varies from one to six months imprisonment, and/or a penalty ranging between JD 5 to 100.
Furthermore, any male who lives from the income generated by a female working as a prostitute is considered to be committing a felony, and could be imprisoned for six weeks up to two years.
It is also an offense for any woman suspected of assisting, or forcing another woman to engage in prostitution for financial gains. Such a violator receives imprisonment between a week and a month, and a penalty ranging from JD 5 to 50.
Hence, the issue of employees who are infected with aids and working in night clubs, as well as bars raise questions concerning the dire need for proper monitoring processes to protect night club customers from sexually-transmitted diseases; whether they are Arabs, foreigners or Jordanians.
This investigative report in cooperation with ARIJ, Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (www.arij.net) under the supervision of coach Saad Hattar.