Video shows Jordanian teenagers taunting man with Down's Syndrome

Video shows Jordanian teenagers taunting man with Down's Syndrome
3 min read
25 September, 2016
The video has been widely shared showing Jordanian teenagers mocking a young man with Down's Syndrome, raising concerns about the treatment of people with special needs in the Arab World.
The video raised the issue of social stigma around disabilities in some Arab communities [Getty]

A Facebook video showing a young man with Down's Syndrome being taunted by a gang of teenagers in Jordan has gone viral, sparking angry responses from Jordanians and debate on the issue of disabilities in the country.

The disturbing scene - now watched more than 25,000 times - shows a man screaming in fear as a teenager goads him with a dog.

The distressed man yells at the boys to stop and cowers in the corner of the room, hiding behind a curtain before bursting into tears clutching his face in his hands.

Children can be heard laughing at the spectacle, which is thought to have been filmed in the north Jordan town of Irbid.

Hundreds of viewers have commented on the video since it was shared on the This is Irbid Facebook page on Saturday, condemning the act.

Irbid

The New Arab understands the teenagers involved have been arrested and appeared in court on Sunday.

The video has raised the issue of the social stigma those with special needs face in Arab societies.

Historically, some people with disabilities have been shunned or considered a burden by their families, as in other parts of the world.

Some parents have shielded their children away from society considering them to be shameful, or simply wanted to protect them from abuse in public.

Many people with disabilities have been kept at home their whole lives or handed over to institutions.

In recent years, governments and NGOs in Arab countries have shown increased interest in protecting the rights of those with disabilities.

There has been evident progress in recent years with people with a Down's Syndrome working and being valued members of society.

Awatef Aburoub, president of Yasmeen Society for Children with Down's Syndrome in Jordan said the video did not reflect Jordanian society.

"People here respect those with Down's Syndrome. It's not from our culture," she told The New Arab.

"It's the first time I've seen it in public and it's not expected at all from the society here. People are all shocked. It's not normal here in Jordan to see such an act."

She said that judging from the video, the man appeared to be working in a supermarket, packing bags, or a café.

"I can't tell. It's really shocking. This is not our society, sadly everything has turned upside down."
 
Comments on the Facebook page were largely sympathetic of the victim and called for the bullies to be punished.

"Oh God, I felt his heart was going to stop from fear," said Noor Almaghaerh.

Down's Syndrome, a genetic condition caused by an extra chromosome, is charactised by its distinctive physical features and varying degrees of cognitive impairment.

The chromosomal condition affects 1 in every 800 births, but Arab countries experience higher incidence rates with factors such as first-cousin marriages, older maternal ages and lack of prenatal detection which can lead to parents deciding to terminate a pregnancy.

Down's Syndrome incidence rate among UAE-nationals in Dubai is (1:319), Oman (1:500) and Qatar (1:546), Saudi Arabia (1:554) and Kuwait (1:581).