JEDDAH - Saudi Arabian authorities will imprison any men found guilty of ‘harassing women’ in shopping centers, the Al-Watan daily reported on Saturday, a month after the kingdom eased restrictions on single men entering malls.
Mixing between unrelated men and women is forbidden in Saudi Arabia. Attempts by men to get to know unrelated females such as asking to exchange phone numbers or commenting on their beauty is considered by Saudi authorities to be sexual harassment.
Saudi religious police strolling around looking for ‘immoral acts’
“The governor of Riyadh, Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz, ordered the concerned authorities to punish those guilty of harassment in malls with 5 days in prison if it is a first-time offender,” Al-Watan said, citing informed sources.
“If the person is caught again he will be jailed for 35 days and taken to court for the appropriate punishment,” it said.
A spokesman from the Justice Ministry was not immediately available for comment. It was unclear whether the governor’s warning was a reaction to new cases of harassment or an effort to deter such incidents, or both.
Last month the Riyadh governor relaxed curbs on single men entering shopping malls following complaints that they did not have enough shopping to do in their spare time. The decision was agreed by the religious police chief.
Religious police patrol Saudi streets to enforce the segregation of males and females. But young males often try to bypass the strictures by handing telephone numbers to unaccompanied women or following them to convey interest.
For most of the Saudi population, marriages are arranged and the groom is allowed to see his prospective bride only after he formally asks her parents for an introduction.
Women waiting for cars outside a shopping mall in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world who bans women from driving.
In 2005, a Saudi singer, Hisham Abdel Rahman, was arrested for shaking hand and receiving congratulatory kisses from his female fans.
Hisham gained fame in the Arab world for winning the French-based “Star Academy” TV show, a program that is akin to that of the U.S. show “American Idol.”
Male and female fans who spotted Hisham, 24, on the Kingdom Tower Mall rushed to shake his hand and bestow him with congratulatory kisses. Saudi Arabian religious police, who were on their regular mall patrol, were offended by the scene, which they deemed “improper,” and had him arrested.
The Associated Press made a telephone call to a religious police official to ask about the incident, but the line was cut off, and attempts to re-establish contact failed.
A woman inside Saudi mall’s grocery department
In 2010, a Saudi court convicted a man and sentenced him to four months in prison and 90 whips for kissing a woman in a mall. Saudi religious police arrested the couple after seeing them on mall cameras “engaging in immoral movements in front of other shoppers,” the Al-Yom newspaper said.
The man, who is in his 20s, was seen with a woman sitting on one of the chairs, exchanging kisses and hugs.
Such kissing incidents have increased in Saudi Arabia as economic pressures have made it harder for young couples to marry. Young men often must pay more than $50,000 in dowry and gold before their brides families will accept marriage.
http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/04/2 … 5H20120421
http://in.news.yahoo.com/saudi-says-men … 29799.html
http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/wire-n … 95288.html
http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-ara … -1.1011595
http://www.emirates247.com/news/region/ … 1-1.454884
http://mypress.se/2012/04/21/men-face-j … udi-malls/