Saudi Arabia adopts law protecting women from sexual harassment

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris

The aims of the measure are "fighting the crime of harassment, preventing it, punishing perpetrators and protecting victims in order to preserve the privacy, dignity and individual freedoms as guaranteed by Islamic jurisprudence and regulations in place". "Driving, although probably the main reason for it, is not the only one", Shura council member Hoda Al-Helaissi told the site.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also instructed the kingdom's interior ministry to fully enact the law, Saudi Gazette reported.

"It fills a large legislative vacuum, and it is a deterrent", she added. Opening up job opportunities to women without university qualifications (very much welcomed by families on lower incomes) and identifying ways to provide good vocational training to the youth of the country (70% plus of the population is under the age of 35) are initiatives to be welcomed, and are created to both bring the kingdom into the 21st century and broaden its very narrow economic base.

Those convicted would face fines up to Dhs293,000.

"Anyone who witnesses an instance of harassment should be required by law to report it", she said.




But rights activists have urged caution following the detention of almost a dozen activists, majority women who had campaigned for greater freedoms.

The United Nations has voiced concern over the arrests of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi activists fear more arrests are forthcoming, as the crackdown overshadows the expected government announcement that the ban on women driving is to end in June. Saudi activists have told Human Rights Watch that the second detainee, whose family asked that he not be identified, has since been released.

"Given the significant loosening of certain restrictions on women's activities in Saudi Arabia... it is perplexing why both women and men engaged in campaigning for such positive developments are now being targeted by the authorities", the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said Tuesday.

Al-Shaalan's work has been published in a number of journals, including "Methods of Care for Children Living in Orphanages in Saudi Arabia (an exploratory field study)" in the Journal of International Education Research, and "Chronic Back Pain, Anxiety, and Depression: A case study of five female Saudi patients" in the Egyptian Journal of Psychological Studies.

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