A Saudi man has for the first time been named and shamed after being found guilty of sexual harassment by a court. In addition, he was also given a prison term and a fine.
The Criminal Court in Medina sentenced Yasser Muslim Al-Arawi to eight months in prison and a fine amounting to US$1,330 (£980) for harassing a woman using obscene remarks.
This was the first verdict issued by a Saudi court to name and shame a culprit in a sexual harassment case after the Council of Ministers approved a law that called for publicly revealing the identity of individuals found guilty of sexual harassment.
The anti-harassment law was amended a year ago to allow for offenders’ names and sentences to be published in local newspapers at their own expense.
Judges were left to decide whether the “gravity of the crime and its impact on society” warranted such a step.
The amendment was welcomed by many in the conservative Gulf kingdom at the time, with one commentator saying it was “long overdue”.
The law, which took effect in 2018, already stipulated penalties of up to two years in prison and fines of up to US$27,000 for those found guilty of an act of sexual harassment. Repeat offenders face being imprisoned for up to five years and fined up to US$80,000.
Despite these legal steps, some Saudi women have complained that authorities are still not doing enough to stop harassment.
One recently told the BBC that online comments on videos documenting incidents often blamed women for being harassed, and that victims were as likely to be punished as perpetrators. (Source: BBC)