In a video uploaded to YouTube last month, two young Saudi women walk along the waterfront promenade in the kingdom’s Red Sea city of Jiddah as a group of young men jeer and follow them until the women become visibly agitated. The video went viral and set off a rare public debate on the rights of women in a country which distinguishes itself as an Islamic state that upholds one of the strictest segregation of the sexes in the world. Rights activists and commentators lambasted the men in the video for sexually harassing the women, who wore traditional black flowing robes known as abayas, along with face veils.
Rights activists and commentators lambasted the men in the video for sexually harassing the women, who wore traditional black flowing robes known as abayas, along with face veils. Public outrage, expressed in the media and online, prompted a police investigation, and state-linked media reported that six of the boys involved were detained and questioned.
Though men and women in Saudi Arabia work alongside each other in places such as banks and hospitals, unmarried men and women are prohibited from socially mixing — in both public and private — and women adhere to an ultraconservative dress code that often includes the full-face covering.
Judicial adviser Yehia al-Shahrani told the state-linked Sabq news website he believes the women acted in a “seductive and tempting” manner. He said it would be unjust to investigate and possibly refer the men to trial “without taking the same deserved action against those who seduced and aroused this to happen, which are the two girls.” Read more…