Just a few weeks before the ban on women drivers is set to be lifted in Saudi Arabia, the once ultra-conservative nation has added to its list of progressive reforms by passing new measures that criminalise sexual harassment.
The Shura council, also known as the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia—the nation’s government body in charge of proposing laws—approved the anti-harassment measure early last week, and the bill is set to become a law, following a royal decree to be issued by the king.
“The law is aimed at combating and preventing the crime of harassment, enforcing penalty on perpetrators, protecting victims and safeguarding the individual’s privacy, dignity and freedom ensured by the Islamic sharia law”, read the Shura council’s statement.
Once passed, the new law will carry a maximum 5-year prison sentence along with a fine of 300,000 riyals (80,000 USD).
The Kingdom’s decision to penalize sexual harassment comes after years of demands from Saudi feminists, and follows concerns expressed by Saudi women over a potential increase in harassment ahead of driving ban lift set to take into effect June 24.