A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Syria: street safety

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on May 23, 2008

I’m pasting in a rather depressing warden message that arrived earlier this week from the US Embassy in Syria. I never worried about theft when I lived there – but I’m guessing that the dislocations of Syria’s economic liberalization are starting to make people more desperate.

As for the groping, I’ve been groped many times in Damascus – just as I have here in Beirut, in Gemmayze and Achrafieh. I admire these women for coming to the Embassy to complain – I always felt too embarrassed, and assumed that they would suspect my behavior or my clothing, rather than commiserating. I’m glad these women were braver than me.

SECURITY NOTICE

CRIME & HARASSMENT

The past two weeks have seen a rise in reports of crime and street harassment involving expatriate women:

· In late April, an elderly third-country expatriate woman was mugged as she exited her vehicle near her residence in Abu Roumaneh. The mugger, described as a well-dressed young man with a beard, punched the victim in the face before escaping with her purse.

· Last week, a similar incident was reported, again in the Abu Roumaneh area and involving an elderly female victim. The victim’s purse was stolen, and she suffered minor injuries when she was struck in the face during the encounter. It is not known whether the perpetrator was also responsible for the other mugging reported above.

· On Sunday evening (May 11) at 2015 hours, an American woman was groped by one of a group of teenagers as she walked near the POP internet café in the Shaalan area.

· On Thursday morning (May 15) at 0730 hours, an expatriate female walking along “canal street” in Malki was groped by a lone male.

Compared with similar-size cities around the world (including within the United States), Damascus remains a relatively low-crime environment. The two very different types of incidents reported above, however, are an important reminder that no large city is “crime free” and that even Damascus is subject to fluctuations in the local crime rate.

Unfortunately, even consistent good security practices provide no guarantee against crime. In the event you become the victim of a crime, please call the Embassy for assistance.

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