RIYADH: The anti-harassment law in Saudi Arabia will be implemented within days and offenders can be jailed for up to two years, said Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki on Thursday.
The law was approved by the Council of Ministers last Tuesday and published in the Official Gazette.
Sexual harassment is considered a crime in the Kingdom according to the provisions of Islamic law, said Maj Gen Al-Turki.
The law seeks to combat harassment crimes, paying particular attention to protecting children under the age of 18 and people with special needs.
Maj Gen Al-Turki said that any person who has been harassed or has witnessed the crime should inform authorities.
The law will take into account acts of harassment in public areas, work places, schools, care centers, orphanages, homes and on social media.
Sexual harassment is defined as words or actions that hint at sexuality, coming from one person to another that involves the body, honor or modesty of a person in any way.
It also includes modern technical means such as social media and emojis.
The offender can be fined up to SR100,000 and jailed for a maximum of two years, depending on the severity of the crime.
Authorities have promised confidentiality for those who report such cases.
“We know that there are a lot of people who are hesitant to report harassments because of the consequences of privacy. The system provides confidentiality to protect the harassed,” said Maj. Gen. Al-Turki.
The the use of emojis to harass someone on text messages and social media will be included.
“The law is clear, anything that is sexually related or within sexual context will be taken into consideration. Everyone understands what sexual harassment is. We’re all Muslims, and have been raised with Islamic values,” he said.