Law has always been one of the basics of life, as it is a need for survival, such as sleep, food, and other basic needs.
We must be knowledgeable about and aware of it, as it is our legitimate weapon in the face of the infringement of our rights, and if we are not preoccupied with learning it, we must know what is sufficient to make us strong individuals aware of our rights and ready to protect them.
Here’s a reminder that our rights are our responsibility alone, and we are the only ones deciding whether to lose or preserve and protect them.
Is sexual harassment a crime punishable by law? And did the texts differ over time, or did they continue to use the same terminology despite the development of designation forms of aggression?
The crimes of exposure and assault are as old as time and have been punishable by many legislations, including the Syrian legislation, where crimes of harassment have been punished with multiple designations since the issuance of the Penal Code issued by Legislative Decree No. 148 of 1949 and its subsequent amendments.
The Syrian law did not use the word “harassment” in the texts of the legal articles at all, but rather replaced it with different terms such as “transgression” and “intrusion” or “show of an act” and other names, as displaying images of harassment without addressing the name itself may be to preserve public permission with it may constitute confusion for many of those subjected to the same act.
It should be noted that in one of the jurisprudences of the Court of Cassation, the word harassment was mentioned in Resolution 1933/1965 – Basis 1909, Rule 1154, Hammurabi reference number: 47410, where it stated “harassment affects males as well as females.”
Molestation Station: Sexual Abuse Types
There is no doubt that there are many places where we may be exposed to sexual harassment, especially in light of the current circumstances.
What is the place with the highest likelihood of molestation?
From a personal perspective, public transportation is one of the most frequent places where anyone, a child, a young person, or even an elderly woman, can be subjected to sexual harassment, especially since there are types of sexual harassment that Syrian law has not yet protected.
Harassment Types by Syrian Law:
Physical sexual harassment
as stipulated in Article 505 of the Syrian Penal Code in Legislative Decree No. 148 of 1949, in which it states: “Whoever touches or caresses in an immodest manner a minor under fifteen years of age, whether male, female, girl or A woman of more than fifteen years of age without their consent shall be punished with imprisonment for a period not exceeding one and a half years. It should be noted here that this provision applies to females, regardless of their age, and applies to male minors, but does not apply to them if they are over fifteen years old.
Verbal sexual harassment
as Article 506 of the Syrian Penal Code stipulates in Legislative Decree No. 148 of 1949, in which it says: “Whoever proposes to a minor under fifteen years of age, or to a girl or woman over fifteen years of age One year for an indecent act, or he addressed one of them with indecent words, he shall be punished with contemptuous imprisonment for three days, or a fine not exceeding 100,000 Syrian pounds, or both penalties together.
Visual Sexual Abuse
There is no law decree for it for the time being.
Sexual harassment through overpowering
Where Article 510 of the Syrian Penal Code stipulates in Legislative Decree No. 148 of 1949, it states: “S/He shall be punished by imprisonment for at least 3 years and a fine of not less than 500,000 five hundred thousand Syrian pounds, or attracting or deporting a woman or girl under the age of twenty-one, even with her consent.”
Also, Article \510\ had covered in part the use of deception the fifth type of sexual harassment, which is:
Sexual harassment by deception
as stated in the second part of the following article: “…or a woman or girl over twenty-one years of age by using deception, violence, threats, or other means of coercion.”
Electronic (Digital) sexual harassment
As stated in the Information Crimes Law No. 20 of 2022 in Article No. 33, Paragraph C: “If any of the crimes stipulated in the laws in force are committed using information technology means, the penalty shall be aggravated,” according to Article 247, and in a clearer form, we note here that The Cybercrime Law does not contain special articles for specific crimes, as it divides crimes in general into two parts: traditional crimes committed via the network and new crimes.
If traditional crimes (such as the text of Article 506) are committed through the network (Internet), the penalty is severe. As for new crimes, they include crimes specific to the network (Internet) or committed through it.
Suggestive sexual harassment
There is no law decree for it for the time being
At the end of the types of sexual harassment (Buse), it must be noted that there is a legal text from Article 507 of the Syrian Penal Code, which states: “Any man who disguises himself as a woman and enters a place that is reserved for women or is prohibited from entering at the time of the act for non-women, shall be punished with imprisonment for more than a year and a half.”
This text did not cover any kind of harassment, and from a personal perspective: This act is considered harassment because it did not extend to another act of aggression such as rape or theft.
“Sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offense or humiliation. Sexual harassment may involve any conduct of a verbal, nonverbal or physical nature, including written and electronic communications, and may occur between persons of the same or different genders.“
And according to Article 492 of the Syrian Penal Code in Legislative Decree No. 148 of 1949, which states: “If the perpetrator of the act is one of his/her legal or illegitimate ancestors or one of her/his in-laws in terms of ancestry, and every person who exercises legal or actual authority over her/him, or one who served the mentioned, or if the criminal was an employee or a clergyman/woman, or was the director of an employment office or a worker in it, and s/he committed the act by abusing the authority or the facilities s/he derives from her/his job.” The penalty would be severe in articles from \504\ to \513\, which includes the texts of the articles mentioned previously.
It was noticed that many girls are subjected to sexual harassment of all kinds, and the complaint records remained empty without any reaction to these events, and the reasons are clear: fear of scandals, fear of the costs and burdens of the case, fear of society itself, or even circumvention of the law and its exploitation by some weak individuals who work in the legal domain, through which the complaints papers become mere damaged and useless papers.
However, at the same time, there are many people who obtained their rights through complaints and the individual’s personal follow-up to the complaint, due to the legal reference they have and the family support provided to the complainant.
As a result: lack of legal awareness plays a major role in the loss of our rights. Filing criminal lawsuits in general and complaints of sexual harassment, in particular, do not require financial burdens and do not require the appointment of a lawyer or specific fees. Sexuality is a societal issue for it is a public right lawsuit that is sponsored by the Public Prosecution, whose role is to preserve the rights of the people since sexual harassment is a societal (public) issue.
We stress here the necessity of not remaining silent about this type of exposure, hoping that our voice be heard by the courts and the judiciary to follow up on this type of case, modify the legal texts that protect this exposure, and take more severe deterrent measures against each aggressor, which has a significant impact on society’s view of this type of abuse in such cases, which in turn will raise the level of awareness of the Syrian society and families in particular, which will push them to take a decisive stand by standing by the victim instead of flogging him/her.