Saudi society welcomes new law criminalizing sexual harassment

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Saudi women take part in the 87th National Day celebrations in Riyadh. (Reuters)
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King Salman has given the interior minister 60 days to draft the law. (Shutterstock)
Updated 30 September 2017
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Saudi society welcomes new law criminalizing sexual harassment

JEDDAH: A new anti-harassment law has won praise from across Saudi Arabia after King Salman ordered the interior minister to criminalize sexual harassment.
The government has prepared a draft anti-harassment law to be implemented in 60 days, with jail terms and flogging being considered as possible penalties.
The move comes just days after a royal decree lifted the driving ban on women.
The latest royal decree stated that sexual harassment posed a great threat to women and families, and was “in contradiction of Islamic principles.”
The decree read: “Considering the dangers sexual harassment poses and its negative impact on the individual, the family and society along with its contradiction of Islamic principles, our customs and traditions … the ministry shall prepare a draft law to tackle sexual harassment.”
The move drew a very favorable reaction from Saudi society.
“The order of King Salman is good and laudable. It will definitely give protection to women ... from harassment by men,” said Khalil Al-Jehani, a practicing lawyer in the Saudi capital.
He added that the order is a further show of support for women after the decree lifting the ban on women driving.
In a 2014 study, nearly 80 percent of women aged 18 to 48 said they had been exposed to some form of sexual harassment.
Faisal M. Al-Mashouh, a lawyer and legal adviser, said the law would “be a road map to control existing relations in society and protect the rights of women.”
He said the law is “a qualitative leap for the rights of women in Saudi Arabia,” adding that in the past, they took a backseat in decision-making and were passive participants in nation-building. This is no longer the case, he said.
Women “have become members of the Shoura Council so their voice on vital issues is heard. They’ve also become heads of leading local corporations,” he said.
The new law will give women more self-confidence and courage to pursue their goals and be active participants in nation-building, as envisioned in Vision 2030, he added.
Many women took to Twitter to express their support for the new law, overjoyed at the prospect of more freedom and safety.
Farah Al-Jabr tweeted that she finally felt like a “human being.”
Maha Al-Fahad was overwhelmed at the events of the past few days, tweeting: “OK … If this is a dream, don’t wake me up.”
Others took the opportunity to ask for the reopening of cinemas as the next step.
Mueerah Al-Ibrahim said this week “was the most beautiful, historic week ever,” with @stgirlever tweeting: “Women driving: done. Anti-Harassment law: done. Cinema: soon. Please welcome the new Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
 


FaceOf: Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, Saudi military chief of staff

Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili
Updated 20 June 2018
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FaceOf: Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, Saudi military chief of staff

The military Chief of Staff of Saudi Arabia, Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, relayed Eid Al-Fitr greetings from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to members of the armed forces in the southern region.

Al-Ruwaili visited Prince Sultan Medical Military City in Riyadh to check on the wounded soldiers and relay the king's Eid greetings as well as his appreciation of their love for their country and the sacrifices they have made for the safety of the Kingdom.

Al-Ruwaili became Saudi Arabia’s chief of staff in February 2018 after the retirement of Gen. Abdulrahman Al-Bunayan.

Al-Ruwaili was born in Turaif, a small town in the Northern Borders region, in 1958. He went to school there, completing high school in Arar, then joined King Faisal Air Academy in Riyadh where he graduated as lieutenant pilot.

After that, he received a scholarship and traveled to the US to complete his flight training at Lakeland in Florida. He did a master’s in military science from Air Command and Staff College, and earned a second master’s degree in strategic studies from the US Air University in Alabama.

He returned to the Kingdom, and worked on several air military bases until he became a squadron commander and then a wing commander. He was an assistant at the air base in Taif, before he became commander of King Fahd Air Base in the western sector of Taif.

In 2012, Al-Ruwaili was appointed as commander of the Air Force, before King Salman issued the royal decree that promoted him to the rank of General Officer and made him the Kingdom’s chief of staff.