This new legislation has been introduced mere weeks before the ban on women driving is to expire.
30 May 2018| Last updated on 30 May 2018
Saudi Arabia has made yet another stride in human rights by implementing a new legislation which criminalises sexual harassment. This new legislation comes just a couple of weeks ahead of the decades old ban of women driving expiring in the Kingdom.
The Shura Council said in a statement on Tuesday, May 29th, 2018: “[The legislation] aims at combating the crime of harassment, preventing it, applying punishment against perpetrators and protecting the victims in order to safeguard the individual’s privacy, dignity and personal freedom which are guaranteed by Islamic law and regulations.”
This new law will give Public Prosecutors clear definition of what constitutes harassment as well as the suitable punishment for the convicted.
The legislation awaits an expected royal decree to become law and the punishments are sure to ward off any possible offenders. Initial offenders will face a fine of SR 100,000 and a prison term of up to two years. Depending on the offence and circumstances of the offence, predators can face up to five years jail term and a fine of up to SR 300,000 according to the Ministry of Culture and Information.
The new law also makes provision for other factors including multiple occurrences of the harassment, harassment in the workplace, educational institutions, and home, if the accused has a position of authority, if the victim was unconscious, if the crime was committed during a time of crisis, accident or disaster, if the victim was a child or a person with special needs.
Shura Council member Dr Latifa Al Shaalan continued to say: “It fills a large legislative vacuum, and it is a deterrent system when compared with a number of similar laws in other countries.”
This is part of the reforms that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has implemented in sight of Saudi’s Vision 2030. This vision has not only brought new developments into the country but also made huge strides in women’s rights in the country. In recent months women have been allowed to attend events in sports stadiums, encouraged to start working, held their first ever marathon, been allowed to drive and even had a comment from the Crown Prince saying that women don’t need to wear abayas as long as they are modestly dressed.
Numerous women and families have expressed their gratitude and joy about the legislation being implemented. The general feeling in the country is that this has been long overdue to implement and a number of women have said that they are more comfortable to start driving now that they know they won't be pestered by men while out and about.