Tattoo culture in Jordan: Liberty or shady business?

Tattoo (Rashed) new
“From Instagram to outright street banners and flyers, tattoo artists are racing to capitalize on the youth’s interest and the lack of regulation,” writes Jordan News columnist Rashed Alkhzaie (Photo: Pxfuel)
Tattoos and body modifications have always been frowned upon in Jordan as they are against the laws of Islam, even though tattoos have been in the region for centuries. In the native Jordanian bedouin culture, more specifically among women, tattoos were used as a symbol of status and recognition towards other tribes.اضافة اعلان

The newer generations are beginning to embrace and grow more interested in tattoos in a much more openly accepted fashion than baby boomers. This is creating substantial demand for tattoo artists in Jordan. Artists from Lebanon and Egypt, where the economy is recovering much slower post-COVID than Jordan, are flocking into town to secure some income while their markets reopen and Jordanians can’t get enough of them.

From Instagram to outright street banners and flyers, tattoo artists are racing to capitalize on the youth’s interest and the lack of regulation. The latter allows them to make much higher margins, as they pay no taxes, customs, or other costs to comply with health and safety standards.

I am not one to write about social topics like these. However a social media ad of a tattoo artist offering their services in Amman, which featured a child who is at most 12 years old really stirred my concern and pushed me to look deeper into the topic. To maintain the integrity of my writing I will also cover the economic aspects of this topic.

The business of tattooing has no legal structure nor is being a tattoo artist a licensed profession in Jordan. Nonetheless, there has been a rise in underground or home-based operations inking people of all ages. It might just be the time for the regulators to regulate this profession and combat any medical risks that should start to arise.

For the past few years some well-known artists have been known to visit Jordan, hosted by small groups of friends who collectively share the cost of flying in an artist to get their tattoos done, and that has slowly become a social norm. Don’t get me wrong, I’m from the school of thought that praises individualism and freedoms when it comes to our bodies. However, things do start to get out of hand when there is absolutely no monitor over the substances and materials used. It poses a risk to people’s health simply because there is no license framework for people to abide by in order to provide their art as a service. A second and more important factor is the lack of laws dictating who can and cannot acquire the service of artists in the ink business. In no world should a child under the age of 16 be capable of sticking a needle in their bodies by choice.

The time for regulators to do their job and simply stay up to date with the market demand before disaster hits is now. Regulating tattoo parlors in Jordan would allow for tax collection, public safety controls, and job creation.

Regardless of people’s conflicting opinions on tattoos, the demand for them is growing and their acceptance is widely spread. Even if it hasn’t been accepted it is still happening on a large scale. This could be similar to the case of cryptocurrencies and crypto trading, a field the regulators simply deemed banned yet have no way of stopping or controlling, should it be regulated controlling some parts of it would be a possibility at least rather than a loose ended case.

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