Saudi Shoura Council approves new law against harassment

Fareed, Arab News, May 29, 2018 01:59

A new
draft legislation outlawing harassment was approved on Monday by the Saudi
Shoura Council.
convicted under the new law faces up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of
up to SR300,000 (around $80,000). (AFP)

Anyone convicted under the new law faces up to five years’ imprisonment and a
fine of up to SR300,000 (around $80,000).

The new
draft law “aims to combat the crime of harassment, prevent its occurrence,
punish the perpetrators and protect the victims, in order to preserve the
privacy, dignity and personal freedom of individuals guaranteed by the
provisions of Islamic law and regulations.”

believe this law to be of extreme importance,” Shoura member Hoda Al-Helaissi
told Arab News.
While the law protects people of both sexes, it has particular relevance to the
end next month of the de facto ban on female drivers, Al-Helaissi said.  

timing is important. Driving, although probably the main reason for it, is not
the only one.
comprehensive society needs a law such as this one to protect the rights of all
citizens, regardless of gender.”
There would be amendments to the law in the near future “to make it more complete
and up to the standards required by our society,” she said.

Al-Shaalan, another Shoura member, said on social media: “The anti-harassment
law approved today is a very important addition to the history of the Kingdom’s
law and regulation, which fills a large legislative vacuum. It is a deterrent
law compared to a number of other laws in other countries.”

said she had proposed a number of additional articles for the law regarding the
protection of witnesses and of the identity of those who report such incidents,
the provision of social and psychological support to the victims of harassment,
and raising awareness of the provisions of the law. Anyone who witnessed an
instance of harassment should be required by law to report it, she said.

lawyer Dimah Alsharif told Arab News the new law was “a qualitative leap” in
combating sexual harassment in the Kingdom. “Not only for women, but for all
genders of different ages and in different situations,” she said.
The end of the driving ban gave attention to the issue of potential harassment
“a boost,” she said, and the new law would help by “imposing clear and specific
clauses to match the driving aspects and to assure people’s freedom in
practicing this right.”

Al-Jabri, 26, a Saudi national, said: “This is not a privilege as much as a
basic right for all women. Taking disciplinary measures against those who
harass women, and even men, will definitely lower the harassment rate and
hopefully put an end to it all together.”

Speaking as
a woman who had faced harassment, Al-Jabri said she was thrilled by the new
law. “With women starting to drive, this law is extremely necessary.”

September 2017, a royal decree announced the end of the decades-long ban on
women driving, which will be effective from June 24.