Saudi Shura to debate anti-harassment bill on Monday

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Draft law stipulates up to 15 years in jail, SR 3 million fines for harassers

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Manama: Saudi Arabia is moving ahead to combat harassment with a bill aimed at preventing and prohibiting it legally through prison terms that could reach 15 years.

An anti-harassment bill prepared by the Ministry of Interior will be discussed by the Shura Council at its session on Monday.

A review on the merits of the bill prepared by the Shura’s social, family and youth committee will be presented to the 150 members, including 30 women.

The proposal is now in its final stages of being enacted. Drafted by the Interior Ministry upon an order from King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, it was presented to the king who referred it to the cabinet where it was reviewed with the participation of competent authorities, Saudi daily Okaz reported on Thursday.

Should the bill get the approval of the Shura on Monday, it will be referred back to the King Salman who will ratify it.

The draft law consists of eight articles and 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 that are guaranteed by Islamic law and regulations.

No figures about harassment in Saudi Arabia are readily available, but King Salman had called for a law that would criminalise the menaces and the negative effects of harassment on the individual, the family and the society.

Sources cited by Okaz said that the new law would impose prison terms of up to 15 years and fines that could reach SR 3 million.

The public prosecution will be in charge of dealing with investigations in the cases of harassment, they added.

The interior ministry will be tasked with conducting campaigns to promote awareness about the legal risks that harassers would face.

This article was first published in  Gulf News

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