Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment

Why women endure bullying in a conservative society?

Why women endure bullying in a conservative society?

ALTHOUGH Saudi society is largely conservative and attaches great importance to religious values, acts of harassment against women are on the rise. Women get harassed physically, verbally and online although they don the all-covering abaya and even face veils in public places. Okaz/Saudi Gazette talked to several members of the public to shed light on this negative behavior, which exists in most public places.

Does unemployment have anything to do with this habit of Saudis or is it because there are conservative Saudis who believe women have no role outside their homes?

In 2013, a religious activist allegedly encouraged young men to harass women cashiers in retail outlets so that they get fed up and quit their work.

Women also get harassed by drivers who offer their services online. Some drivers annoy women by ogling at them. Samar Ameen, a college student, said she had once been harassed by the driver who drops her off at the university.

“All of a sudden, the driver started talking with me and took a different street I was not familiar with. I threatened him saying I would open the door and jump off. He got scared himself and went back onto the highway. I never rode with him after that incident,” she said.

Lubna Omar, another college student, had a similar experience with her driver. He flirted openly with her one day while he was driving her to the college. She told her father who immediately fired the driver and threatened him that he would call the police if the driver ever calls his daughter’s cell phone number again.

Bayan Zahran, a female lawyer, has taken up many harassment cases where the victims were all women.

“If a woman wants to file a harassment complaint, all she has to do is go to the police station in the neighborhood where she has been harassed and file a report. She should have enough information to identify the harasser such as his name or license plate number. A police officer will ask the harasser to show up at the police station and refer him to the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution. If there is enough evidence against him, he will be produced in court for a final judgment,” she explained.
If the crime is proved, the judge will hand out a punishment commensurate with the type of harassment, she added. 

Talal Al-Hindi, a legal counselor, said the committee of social affairs at the Shoura Council has drafted an anti-harassment law that stipulates a prison sentence not exceeding five years and a fine of SR500,000 or both for the culprit. The members of the council have not voted on the law yet.
The demand for an anti-harassment law by the public has increased in light of the rising number of cases. The problem is some women get scared and never report incidents of harassment for fear of staining the family’s reputation in society.

Abdullah Salamah, manager of a shopping center in Madinah, urged women who go shopping to report harassment cases to the security guard at the mall.
“In this mall, we have over 70 surveillance cameras installed at different places to ensure safety of all shoppers. We are planning to install 300 more cameras over the next few months. There are 105 security guards in the mall,” he said.

Dr. Omar Al-Juhani, a legal counselor, said there are three types of harassment: harassment by a non-relative, harassment by a relative and electronic harassment. The third constitutes cybercrime.

“In fact, 30 percent of women do not report incidents of harassment online while 20 percent of them report such cases to the police. Harassment includes the use of obscene words, swearing, improper material or photos,” he explained.


  1. It is in this situation, in Saudi the home of Islam, that women are carrying on a struggle for
    empowerment,drive,to work in mixed environment and to be allowed to do away with male
    guardian(MAHRAM). Elsewhere I read a sister writing, how relieved that they can go about without Niqab , in Riyadh.
    Islam has laid down rules to prevent sexual harassment.
    What is lowering the gaze for men ?
    A man and woman cannot be alone unless they are MAHRAM.
    Allah knew whom he was creating. Why were Adam and Eve, sent out of Paradise.?
    And do you know that it was Eve that ate from the forbidden tree first and then Adam followed and
    rest is history. ( From Bidayah wan Nihayah by IBN Kathir )

    • Dear brother situation is not the same as you are thinking. Women are forced to do some grocery shopping and there needed shopping because their men are not getting family time for them or to get things for them. Many women come in pairs or groups to shops. Men just drop them of and go hang out with their friends. Here harassment occurs even if the women if fully covered only eyes are seen. Wallahi im witness of it here in Saudi.
      Yes some women are doing the same as you and me read in the article going out without niqab or covering their hair but they are very very few. Please don’t generalise them. Mehrems here don’t have time for their women folks. So who will do the required things ?

  2. I think if a woman is properly coversf her body, chances of harassement goes slim. Coquettish type women are soft target.
    By the way don’t worry such non ethical practice is almost everywhere.

    • Sorry here harassment happens to most of the fully covered women. And this is the reality. Let it be street or any other public place or even office. Some office managers are indirectly putting the unwritten rules that those Saudi women working in their office shouldn’t cover there face.

    • Islam has laid down a dress code to wear loose fitting garments, not transparent and a woman has
      to be covered from head to foot .Head includes hair and ears. What can be exposed is the face and
      hands below wrists. Next is the way she walks and mannerisms and she can avoid problems to
      herself and others. Islam is a way of life and everything has been seen to.
      I also wish to comment on MENS dress too. They too should avoid body fitting garments. The awrah
      for men is between navel and below knee. Further men’s garments must be above ankle.This is
      referred to as Isbal. There is a SAHIH Hadith that such people are one of three groups of people
      Allah will not look at. It would be good for men and would please Allah if they wore proper dress
      when attending the SALAH in masjid and when they are outdoors.I hope that my comment will
      be accepted it in the spirit in which it has been made, and I am one who strictly observes it .

  3. it is mind set of men that need to be changed that is cause of sexual harassment. In western countries this is a rare case in public streets even the women are scantly dressed , there hardly any men took notice of women, they just do their work.

  4. Sexual harassment against women is of course a serious matter of concern anywhere and everywhere in this world but even now (in 21st Century) in a country like Saudi Arabia as the columnist said “a largely conservative” state where often a very less people talks about the importance of gender equality, freedom of women or other social as well as cultural reforms.

  5. What is implied obviously is that men harass women. There is harassment of men by women,which
    obviously men will not complain of for reasons best known to everyone. As Muslims we have to
    have TAQWAH (Fear of Allah at all times for he sees you even if you do not) and next ADL (Justice).
    Next one must think of ones mother , sister wife and daughter. Would a man like if someone were
    to harass his family members. One who fears Allah , the Last Day and Hereafter will not harass
    or oppress others. This life is the testing ground and if we act correctly we will enjoy peace and
    rest in the hereafter.

  6. If we follow sharia strictly, InshallAllah no such incidents will happen. Before hiring any driver, we have to thorughly check his background. And also lessons of shariya shall be given to drivers as well. And also other than JUMA CERMONS, there should be hoardings on the streets regarding islamic values and behaviour. Now a days people are ignorant with Islamic teachings. Men and should know what islam teaches and how to lead a islamic life. InshaAllah everyting will be under peace. During the period of Sahaba Radiyallu Anhum and Taabayeen there was complete peace and safety. Even a single woman can travel from Yemen tp Madina without fear. Now due to adoption of western culture our daughters are not safe in our homes. My humble request to every body to lead Islamic Life and follow our beloved prophet PBUH – Allah will help us every where and when ever we are in need.