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Saudi Arabia Approves Law to Criminalize Sexual Harassment

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Saudi Arabia Approves Law to Criminalize Sexual Harassment

A Saudi woman leaves a polling station after casting her vote during municipal elections, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo Credit: Reuters

The Shura Council of Saudi Arabia has approved a law drafted by the Interior Ministry on Tuesday 29th of May to criminalize sexual harassment in the kingdom. The law provides penalties of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $80,000.

The legislation awaits a royal decree from Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) who presents himself as a reformist whose agenda included lifting the ban on cinemas, allowing mixed-gender concerts and clipping the power of the religious police.

Women’s rights activist, Dr Najat ElSaeed, said in an interview with AlHurra that the new law came just in time since the council lifted the driving ban on women this year, stating “If the law had not been passed, there would have been a lot of issues for women who drive.” She also expects that the lifting of the ban might entail the passing of even more laws on how the introduction of Saudi cinema will demand further laws on Intellectual property.

However, recent arrests of at least 11 activists in the kingdom have prompted human rights groups to question the social reform agenda. The activists are mostly identified as veteran women campaigners who are aiming to eliminate the country’s male guardianship system.

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