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Jordanian professor dismissed over video about harassment on campus

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 3 November 2012 - ANHRI condemns the decision of the president of the University of Jordan in Amman to dismiss Dr. Rola Kawas from her post as dean of the foreign languages faculty, due to her supervision of a video produced by her students addressing the issue of harassment on campus.

A group of female students at the University of Jordan made a short movie that shed light on the harassment many students experience on the campus. The video was produced within the framework of a feminist theory programme supervised by Kawas. The movie, which is two minutes long, includes shots of female students holding banners showcasing common phrases used by some men on the campus to harass them.

At the end of the movie, the phrase "your freedom ends where the freedom of others begins . . . this is my privacy . . . this is my freedom" appears. The movie is entitled "This is my privacy". It was prepared in the fall of 2011, but received much attention when it was finally introduced on Youtube six months later. According to statements attributed to Kawas, she was summoned by the university's president, who objected to the movie, saying it distorts the university's reputation.

Kawas has said the movie falls within the scope of freedom of academic research. News of her dismissal was featured in newspapers and online journals across the country. Kawas had worked only one year of a two-year contract with the university.

"The dismissal of Dr. Rola Kawis is an attack and a clear violation of freedom of academic research and freedom of expression. It is an indication of narrow-mindedness, where university officials prefer to hide the facts rather than face them. This is a very disturbing action carried out by a research and teaching institution," says ANHRI.

ANHRI calls on the University of Jordan administration to reverse the decision and halt any other arbitrary actions against Kawas. The organisation also urges the university administration to seriously address the growing phenomenon of harassment on campus through open confrontation of the problem.

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