‘Justice for all’: How Saudi Arabia’s sexual harassment law will work

With Saudi Arabia’s new anti-harassment law soon to take effect, individuals could now live a normal life free of fear. (File photo)
Updated 03 June 2018

‘Justice for all’: How Saudi Arabia’s sexual harassment law will work

  • Ground-breaking legislation will protect both genders — with those who report violations promised confidentiality
  • Under the law, sexual harassment is defined as words or actions that hint at sexuality towards one person from another, or that harms the body, honor or modesty of a person in any way. 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s new anti-harassment law will help all individuals live a normal life free of fear, the Interior Ministry’s security spokesman, Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, has said.

With the new law coming into effect within a couple of days,  following its publication in the Official Gazette, Al-Turki explained how it would be implemented in a press conference on Thursday. 

The new law, approved by a Council of Ministers meeting last Tuesday,  will combat sexual harassment in the Kingdom, which is considered a crime according to Islamic law. 

“We expect that this law will lower sexual harassment crimes,” Al-Turki said. “We are working towards not having these crimes in any place in the Kingdom.” 

No statistics are available on the incidence of sexual harassment, because of past reluctance to report violations. “These crimes were under the morale law, and because there was  little reporting, that is why this law has been provided to protect the identity of the harassed and help them come forward and report incidents,” Al-Turki said.

The Kingdom has recently witnessed a wide-ranging series of reforms. The ambitious Vision 2030 aims to have women more involved and less segregated than before. While the new law reaffirms women’s role in society, it is not related to women in Saudi Arabia being allowed to drive from June 24, Al-Turki said. In fact, the law applies to both genders.  

“This law is to help all individuals live a normal life without any incidents of harassment,” he said. “Any person who has been subjected to harassment or has been a witness to it should inform the competent authorities.”

The most severe punishments will be given to those who harass people with special needs and children under the age of 18, with an awareness campaign to be introduced in schools.  

“Many people are reluctant to have their children participate in certain activities for fear of being harassed. This law helps put the guardians at ease,” he said.

The most severe cases will face prison terms of up to five years and/or a maximum penalty of SR300,000 ($80,000). Incidents that have been reported more than once will be subject to the maximum punishment. 

Lesser cases will face a prison term of up to two years and/or a maximum penalty of SR100,000. 

“The Public Prosecution will give out the punishment, depending on the crime committed.” Al-Turki said.

Fines paid by the harasser will not go to the harassed. “The most important aspect is that justice has been witnessed by the harassed,” he said.

Under the law, sexual harassment is defined as words or actions that hint at sexuality towards one person from another, or that harms the body, honor or modesty of a person in any way. 

“The law is clear: Anything that is sexually related or within a sexual context will be taken into consideration. Everyone understands what sexual harassment is. We are all Muslims and have been raised with Islamic values,” Al-Turki said. 

The law will apply to modern technology, including social media. “Many people believe if they use fake names, we won’t be able to identify them or track them down,” Al-Turki said. However, “if there are documents and evidence, we will take action.” 

Explicit emojis could be considered harassment, Al-Turki said, but a rose emoji should not be cause for concern. “The investigation between the two individuals will be built on evidence, and the Public Prosecution will conclude if there is or isn’t harassment,” he said.

Reports will protect the privacy of those involved. “We have information that there are a lot of people who are hesitant to report harassments because of the consequences to privacy,” Al-Turki said. “The system provides confidentiality to protect the harassed.” 

 


Adrian Grenier: Having an appetite is the key to balance

Updated 59 min 6 sec ago

Adrian Grenier: Having an appetite is the key to balance

  • ‘Find ways that you can participate and then share those ways with your community’

RIYADH: Youmna Naufal, executive director of the Lebanese Student Society, asked Adrian Grenier, actor, filmmaker, social advocate and musician, about how he balances a rich portfolio of mixed roles and projects.

“I have a big appetite,” Grenier said at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday. “I have big eyes for the world. I get excited about a lot of different things ... I want to be diversified.”

Grenier talked about how technology is making the world smaller and more connected.

He thinks that it is important to have a depth of knowledge of a particular skill and go very deep on particular things, but at the same time to have casual knowledge about a lot of different things.

“Travel is more easily available to people and you want to be able to have a working knowledge of a lot of different aspects so that you can comment and you can participate meaningfully with all the people you’re going to encounter,” he said.

Grenier has had a hand in many different projects, from working for the environment, being the first social advocate for Dell computers to protecting the ocean. He said that people could do many different things and touch many different lives. “You have to, it’s almost a necessity at this point,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Grenier has had a hand in many different projects, from working for the environment, being the first social advocate for Dell computers to protecting the ocean.
  • One part of his career involved setting up the Lonely Whale Foundation to educate and raise awareness to inspire change.
  • At Lonely Whale his target is to eliminate 20 billion plastic straws from the waste stream.
  • Grenier also introduced the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, which this year drew 300 young people between the ages of eight and 18 from 30 countries around the world.

One part of his career involved setting up the Lonely Whale Foundation to educate and raise awareness to inspire change, because “today’s children are tomorrow’s environmental leaders.”

Grenier believes that a lot of things can be done to make that change — people need as many solutions as there are humans — “we need 8 billion solutions, and then all the different solutions that each individual comes to.”

He said that everybody knows what is needed in their local community, and what is needed individually and personally. Therefore, it is important that people bring their own creativity to the issue. “Find ways that you can participate and then share those ways with your community. I have a lot of things that I personally do. One thing is starting to reduce plastic straws on all different fronts.”

At Lonely Whale his target is to eliminate 20 billion plastic straws from the waste stream.

Grenier said that 10 billion tons of plastic is going into the ocean every year, which is a huge problem to tackle.

Lonely Whale decided to break the problem down to one single unit of measure, he said. “One single piece of plastic and the plastic straw became that symbolic unit … we could start to actually see a difference.”

He said that this was not easy as 500 million plastic straws are used every day.

Grenier also introduced the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, which this year drew 300 young people between the ages of eight and 18 from 30 countries around the world.

“We bring them together in a bootcamp-style experience over three days so that they can learn about plastics, the ocean, and how they can go back to their communities and start implementing change locally.”

Grenier gave a few pieces of advice throughout the session — especially to millennials. One was that they should take care of themselves, “so that you can stay committed to the task at hand and really accomplish your goals. It can’t be something that you do and then give up … So, take care of your health, take care of your body, your mind, and workout.”

He also advised people to collaborate. “Collaboration is a big part of what I do. I like to consider myself a master collaborator ... looking outside of your own self ... and being compassionate for other ideas.”

“Through new ideas you learn and synthesize both those perspectives into new perspectives. So, let’s do it together,” he said.