What Ajjawi wants to articulate with her artwork is the idea that women are not objects to gaze at but rather full-fledged human beings with intellectual depth.
If this seems like a banal point to make, consider that an estimated 80 percent of Jordanian women have experienced street harassment, according to Asma Khader, secretary general of the Jordanian National Commission for Women.
Elsewhere in the world, the numbers are just as dire: In the United States, 65 percent of women report being sexually harassed in the streets; in Brazil, 99.6 percent of women said they were victims of street harassment; and in Egypt, 99.3 percent of women reported being sexually harassed.
This is why, when asked to choose a topic in line with this year’s Women on Walls festival theme, “Stories from Fear to Freedom,”Ajjawi chose street harassment. Street art, she says, is particularly useful for tackling this type of issue.
Because the artwork is located outdoors, it addresses a much wider audience than those typically motivated to attend a feminist art show. Instead, it challenges harassers in their domain: the streets.
This kind of art doesn’t just decorate cement walls; it forces a conversation. “It catches the eye,” says Ajjawi. “But it’s not confrontational.”