Anti-harassment law protects dignity, privacy

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Time: May 30, 2018

JEDDAH — The adoption of the anti-harassment law by the Council of Ministers reaffirms the keenness of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, to safeguard the individual’s privacy, dignity and personal freedom guaranteed by the provisions of the Islamic Shariah, according to media analysts.

Up till now harassment was a crime for which there were no specific laws to punish perpetrators. It was left to the discretion of judges to issue a verdict on the basis of the gravity of the offense, they said.

With the adoption of the new law, every individual in society is now aware of specific punishment for any form of harassment.

The new legislation will focus on the conviction of perpetrators of harassment and not on victims.

It also prevents perpetrators from committing more crimes by taking advantage of the fear and silence of victims.

Crimes of harassment fall within the category of misuse of authority where the weak party is exposed to exploitation.

The strict application of the law will contribute to eliminating such crimes.

There is a provision in the law to punish those who make false and malicious claims about harassment. This sends a strong message that the law will not tolerate those who misuse its provisions to take revenge or file false cases.

According to the law, the offense of harassment is not directed only against women but also against children, physically or mentally disabled persons, as well as those occurring between the same sexes in schools and universities.

The adoption of the law aims at preventing all kinds of such crimes and violations.

The law guarantees the right of all individuals in society to enjoy a healthy work environment free of any physical or psychological harassment.

The anti-harassment law was approved by the Council of Ministers chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on Tuesday evening.

The Shoura Council passed a draft law on Monday which would introduce a prison term of up to five years and a maximum penalty of SR300,000 ($80,000).

It is “a very important addition to the history of regulations in the Kingdom,” Shoura Council member Latifa Al-Shaalan was quoted as saying in an information ministry statement. “It fills a large legislative vacuum, and it is a deterrent,” she added.

“(The legislation) aims at combating the crime of harassment, preventing it, applying punishment against perpetrators and protecting the victims in order to safeguard the individual’s privacy, dignity and personal freedom which are guaranteed by Islamic law and regulations,” a statement from the Shoura Council said.

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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