- A Saudi court identified a person convicted of sexual harassment for the first time last week.
- A court ordered Yasser Muslim al-Arawi’s name to be published in Saudi newspapers on Sunday.
- Saudi Arabia updated its 2018 anti-harassment law in 2021 so perpetrators could be shamed.
A court in Saudi Arabia ordered the identity of a person convicted of sexual harassment to be made public for the first time, the latest step forward for women’s rights in the country.
On Sunday, a criminal court in Medina sentenced Yasser Muslim al-Arawi to eight months in prison for sexually harassing a women, the Saudi Gazette reported.
He was also fined 5,000 Saudi riyals ($1,332) and the court ordered details of his case to be published in local newspapers.
The country’s anti-harassment law, passed by royal decree in 2018, was updated in January 2021 so that a court could shame convicted sexual harassers by ordering them to be publicly named.
Al-Arawi’s case marks the first time that the amendment has been used.
Under the rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto Saudi ruler since 2017, the country has gone through some rapid social change.
That year, women were granted the right to drive and in 2018, permitted to join the military. In 2019, the country said it would no longer require women to get the permission of their male guardian to travel after Insider published an investigation into the realities of the system.
Crown Prince Mohammed, also known as MBS, has also welcomed international sports events and set up several music festivals. However, some of those festivals have been blighted by reports of sexual harassment.
Despite giant leaps forward at the national level, many woman are still considered second-class citizens in the kingdom, and rights groups say more must be done to reach gender parity.
Though MBS has ushered in change for the Saudi citizens, he has also cracked down on dissent and opposition to his rule: Detaining royals, activists, and lawyers and targeting threats abroad.
In 2018, the Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, a crime that the CIA concluded MBS likely ordered. In 2020, Saad al-Jabri, a former top Saudi spy chief, accused MBS of sending a hit squad to kill him in Canada in 2018.