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Harasser and anti-abuse law
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 29 - 10 - 2013

Turki Al-Dhakheel
The video footage of a group of young women in the Eastern Province being harassed was shocking. It rocked the entire Saudi society, and there was unanimity among all people is that this incident was an outrageous one. The only difference was in the language of condemnation. However, some people put the blame on the young women for not staying indoors.
In fact, these women, maintaining all their decency, went out for shopping and recreation like everyone else. The young women are not supposed to be ordered to stay inside their homes until the end of their lives. In short, what the incident revealed is that the young men are reckless and not scared of even the deterrent laws and regulations.
In our neighboring countries, young women are seen jogging in their bathing suites along the beaches. Not any man — no matter what is his status — dares to utter even a single indecent word to them because the penalty for harassment there is imprisonment for several years. I mean by this the punishment for verbal harassment. As for touching and harming women, that is a disaster and for which there are other tough penal actions.
In Saudi Arabia, we have no such ‘harassment law.” However, there is a new law that includes provisions to punish those who harass women.
The Council of Ministers approved on Aug. 26 the law to prevent domestic violence. In article 1 of the law, there is a definition about violence: “All forms of exploitation or physical and psychological abuse or threat, committed by one individual on another.” Altogether, there are 27 articles in the law.
The new law is precise and rigorous. Perhaps, some people think that there should be a specific law to deal with harassment. This is certain. Also, we should publicize the existing active laws among the people, especially the youths. The new law for prevention of abuse contains stringent penal actions. The law is comprehensive and not limited to domestic violence alone as some people think.
In the second article of the law, its goals were mentioned among others as “guaranteeing protection from various kinds of abuses.” The penalty for abusers include fine of up to SR50,000 and imprisonment for up to one year.
In the last line, I can say that harassment is a primitive act and the law is to catch the offender. The harasser is a foolish and aggressive guy who needs psychological rehabilitation by specialists. The new law emphasizes this point.
Despite the significance of the law, it is still relevant to carry out studies about bringing out a law against harassment to deter these vandals and “mentally ill” people from committing similar acts like the incident in the Eastern Province.

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