Saudi anti-harassment law put to test

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With the Saudi anti-sexual harassment law put into effect, sexual offenders should not have to think many times before attacking their prey. (Shutterstock image)
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The alleged harasser in Alkhobar. (Screen grab from YouTube video)
Updated 13 May 2019
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Saudi anti-harassment law put to test

  • Videos that went viral on social media resulted in the arrest of two men in 24 hours

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s relatively new anti-harassment law was put to the test in the past week, with two separate incidents that were publicized online, resulting in the arrests of the offenders, both in their 20s, within a 24-hour period. 

The first took place on Wednesday night in Alkhobar, where a woman was sexually and verbally harassed as she was driving her car. 

The woman recorded the incident as the man threatened to open the car door if she did not get out. “I want you, get out,” he said as he made various lewd gestures. 


 

The woman posted the video on social media but has not officially filed a report. She reportedly wanted the video to go viral to push for the man’s arrest.

“The government didn’t disappoint,” she said, as the public prosecutor issued an order to arrest the man.

In Dammam, a woman was sexually assaulted from behind as she was leaving a grocery store on Saturday. The incident was captured on CCTV.

 


 

Saudi Arabia’s Attorney General Saud Al-Moajab ordered the immediate arrest of the man after the incident was brought to his attention.

Police spokesman Col. Ziyad Al-Riqaiti did not identify the man, but said he was a Saudi in his 20s.

Social media lit up in reaction as the videos of both perpetrators were widely circulated. An overwhelming majority of Saudis expressed disdain, saying the perpetrators’ actions contradicted Islamic teachings. There were some who justified the acts of the perpetrators.

“Defamation, defamation, defamation. How will the likes of him deter from their ways if we don’t slander him?” @MAloamari tweeted. “The public prosecutor’s quick actions are praised by all in the community.”

@adnanalhassani said of the grocery store incident: “Thank God for CCTV cameras.”

@m7md1433 tweeted: “The most important thing is they brought him in. We’ll surely hear of the severe punishment shortly.”

@TARQ2012 tweeted: “Defamation is the best solution for harassers.” @abood7562 said of the harasser in Dammam: “Let them put an end to this aggressor. I wish that the most severe of penalties is applied.”

Two Saudi men, both in their 30s, were arrested for sexually harassing women in the eastern cities of Alkhobar and Dammam. (YouTube image)

Shoura Council member Noura Shaaban said: “We live in the reign of King Salman, who has ensured that women must work in a safe environment.”

She added: “He has issued laws to combat harassment. The Human Rights Commission commended the adoption of this system and its importance in maintaining the individual’s privacy and dignity, guaranteed by the provisions of Islamic law and regulations.”

Shaaban said: “We as women shall continue to exercise all our daily activities and errands with the support of our leadership.”

Al-Riqaiti said police throughout the Kingdom are keen to ensure the safety of all citizens and residents.

He issued a stern warning against anyone wishing to harm the security, safety and stability of Saudi society.

In a statement posted on its Twitter page, the public prosecution emphasized that sexual harassment is defined as words or actions that hint at sexuality, coming from one person to another, that harm the body, honor or modesty of a person in any way, including through the use of modern technology. 



The law provides for penalties of up to two years in prison and fines of up to SR100,000 ($26,664.5).

In 2017, a royal decree stated that “considering the dangers sexual harassment poses and its negative impact on the individual, the family and society along with its contradiction of Islamic principles, our customs and traditions,” the Interior Ministry “shall prepare a draft law to tackle sexual harassment.” The decree came days after the ban on women driving was lifted.

In May 2018, the Shoura Council and Cabinet approved legislation, drafted by the ministry and instructed by King Salman, that criminalized sexual harassment.

Decoder

Penalty for sexual harassment

Last year, Saudi Arabia brought in a law criminalizing sexual harassment. Offenders may be imprisoned for up to two years and/or fined up to SR100,000 ($26,664.5). If the crime is repeated, offenders face five years in prison and/or a fine of SR300,000.


Saudi crown prince meets with Dubai crown prince

Updated 27 May 2019
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Saudi crown prince meets with Dubai crown prince

JEDDAH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai, met on Sunday to review the "brotherly historical relations" between the Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
They also discussed the promising opportunities for cooperation in various fields, SPA said.
The meeting was attended by top officials from both sides.
Before the meeting, King Salman received the Dubai crown prince at Al-Safa Palace in Makkah and had iftaar together, along with other officials including  Kuwait’s National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim and the chief of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais. 
King Salman is spending the last ten days of Ramadan in the holy city of Makkah.