Jordanians have a peaceful and respectful etiquette, yet it remains true that women's rights in the Middle East haven't come as far as in many Western nations.
To some, travel to the Middle East conjures up images of western women being kidnapped and sold into slavery. That really only happens in cheap airport novels these days, but what is it really like for women, especially solo travelers in Jordan?
First things first, women can get low-level harassment anywhere. I witnessed it on a busy city main street in Australia just last week. For the record, the young woman gave the cat-calling dweebs a very swift "free personality assessment".
Amman, the capital, is a very cosmopolitan city and very used to seeing tourists on the streets. The Jordanian women here are dressed stylishly and many choose not to cover their heads. Jordanians are also acutley aware of the importance of tourism to their economy. Those who work in the industry recognise that mutual respect and tolerance is important. They're also suffering a downturn in the tourism industry, visitor numbers in 2016 were half what they were just 7 years previously, and the government is working with its people to put their best foot forward.
Away from the big towns and the haunts of tourists, some less tolerant attitudes may prevail.
You can see from the comments section below that there have been a variety of experiences from female travelers. Some of those experiences must have been extremely distressing, and are not to be dismissed as inconsequential.
In fact, World Nomads policyholders who have been subjected to harassment – or worse, actual assault – have access to counseling services through their policy. Just call our Emergency Assistance number, and we'll do what we can to help. It is also worth keeping the emergency and contact numbers for your country's embassy in Jordan with you should you need it.
Jordan is serious about trying to curb levels of violence against women, and urges any women who feel that they have been harassed or are in a dangerous situation to call the police on 911. And it doesn't have to be a life-threatening situation; if you're feeling threatened or are just lost, they'll happily come and get you.
It's pretty well known that Jordan is not the place to wear a bikini top and short-shorts. The experienced female travelers I've spoken to say you should also avoid tight clothing and tank tops. Not to say you should wear a sack, but fitted tops covering the shoulders, capri pants or a skirt and leggings are practical, comfortable and will not draw attention to you.
Yes, it's your right to dress however you wish, but taking a stand on the issue with a small town official will (unfortunately) not help your case. All travelers should respect local customs, regardless of how out-dated you might think they are.
By the way, male travelers don't get away without a few dress rules! Shorts are not always appropriate – instead, try some cool cotton chinos, and never go shirtless – except at the beach or pool.
Safe to say the dress code – for all genders – should always be respectful.
All travelers, not just women, should avoid accepting rides from strangers (read the comments below). Ask the reception at your hotel for a reliable taxi driver, or extra information on the safest methods of transport.
While you can get alcohol in Jordan at hotels, restaurants, and bars in tourist areas, you're expected to keep your wits about you. Staggering down the street arm-in-arm with your best friend, singing at the top of your lungs, will draw unwanted attention.
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