A new weapon to fight harassment


Al-Jazirah newspaper

THE great interaction of the public through social networking sites and the positive comments in the mass media welcoming the approval of the anti-harassment law confirms the maturity of the various segments of Saudi society.

The law was prepared by the Ministry of Interior on the directive of the higher authorities and presented to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for his endorsement.

Saudis have been waiting for this law, considered the crown of laws as it will protect the rights of individuals, women and children in the street, home, work places and public places.

The new law is significant in light of the increasing participation of women in various official, social and economic activities. It also comes at a time when women will start driving on the Kingdom’s roads come June 24. It is the world’s newest law to confront harassment, which is considered a major social scourge. The law will put an end to this crime by punishing harassers without any leniency.

The presence of a modern law giving a clear definition of harassment makes legal action against the perpetrators pretty easier than before. In the past actions against harassers were taken based on assumptions, providing many loopholes for criminals to escape punishment. The absence of an anti-harassment law had given the enemies of the nation a good weapon to attack the Kingdom.

Our enemies have tried to tarnish the image of Saudi Arabia by circulating false figures of harassment cases in the country. Though they failed to present any evidence to prove their allegations against the Kingdom, they exaggerated harassment cases in the Kingdom with the support of the biased foreign media and social media activists who fish in troubled waters.

The birth of the new law will shut those mouths and at the same time it will ensure protection of individuals and safeguard their freedoms in society. I am sure that the law be described as one of the newest and best legislation in the world.

Harassment exists even in the most advanced countries having the toughest laws as the criminals often exploit the fear of their victims, society’s wrong perception about such victims and punishment of the family. Many victims are ignorant of their rights and ways to protect them.

Harassment is an abnormal act in Muslim societies and is considered a taboo. It cannot be eliminated except by joint efforts to educate women, children and other individuals about their rights, so that they distinguish between physical, verbal and other forms of harassment.

How can we protect ourselves from those who want to attack us? How far we can allow others to encroach on our lives?

We should learn the mechanisms to confront harassers when they are exposed. After the passage of the new law, the ball is now in the court of parents, NGOs, schools and other educational institutions and the media to enhance awareness of women and children about harassment.

We should pay more attention on preventing such crimes through public awareness programs rather than leaving the matter to the judiciary to hand out punishments to harassers. The new law brings about a historic change in the fight against harassers who have been turning lives of our women and children into hell.