Saudi Arabia: Harass a Woman? Go to Jail!

Saudi Arabia has a plethoria of shopping malls.  From my home in the Mohamadiyah district of Riyadh I could easy go to 7 large high scale shopping malls in five minutes.  Until recently the shopping malls were only accessible to women and/or families.  Single Saudi men were prohibited from entering the mall in fear of following or harassing young women.

Saudi Arabia recently relaxed its law of not allowing single men entry into shopping malls.  However, this change may now result in a new law being put into effect.  In order to ensure that the female shoppers will not be harassed by young men who may be trying to talk to them or pass them a phone number, the new law is to imprison any young man found to be harassing a woman while inside the mall.

Both Saudi men and women have mixed reactions to the new law.  Many feel that imprisonment is too harsh a penalty.  Some Saudi men view the new law as another measure to make single men fearful to enter the malls that were earlier prohibited to them.

I personally think imprisonment is a harsh penalty for a “first time offender.”  Knowing the Saudi culture, I can envision some young men taking advantage of the relaxed law allowing them to enter shopping malls with the mindset to follow and/or make contact with women.  However, rather than imprison them, perhaps levying a fine and not allowing them to enter a mall for six months might be as effective?  Or better yet, have all young men be required to take a class on “mall etiquette and behavior.”

As the article also points out, it would be nice for women (and others) to receive more protection out on the streets from harassment of young men.  My late husband and I experienced cars of young men following us and especially if there were other young women in the car with us.  One time it was just the two of you and we found ourselves blocked in on a narrow street with a car full of young guys in front of us and behind us.  These are the kind of situations which are more dangerous as compared to the relatively safe and confined area of a shopping mall.


26 Responses

  1. Never seems to be middle ground!

  2. I visited saudi a few months after I got married, and went with my husband to visit my parents in Riyadh. We were with my family (mom, dad, and sister.. and of course our family driver) and got separated from my husband for a few minutes, at a mall. Next thing I knew our driver was running towards where my husband had been because the mutawa police were surrounding him and harassing him as to why he was there alone.

    THEN they didn’t believe we were married (he’s ecuadorian and I’m pakistani) so they demanded to see our marriage certificate! We obviously didn’t have it on hand and it took my dad (who works for ANB) calling his boss, a local saudi to talk to the mutawa to back them off.

    This new law is just going to give the mutawa even more clout to walk around and harass men. Although, given my personal experiences, a lot of those younger guys possibly deserve being told off.

  3. I’m sorry…but personally i agree with this. too little restrictions on saudi men harassing women and way too many restrictions on women. actually i’m kinda upset that single men are now allowed into the malls.

  4. What do these young men who drive around and follow women in cars want? Are they rapists? Do you want to feel you? Do they want a phone number? Is this an upsetting but not dangerous inconvenience or a physical threat?

  5. Actually women wanted freedom of all types, say to meet young boys and flirt. The malls are not meeting clubs or clubs to flirt. Should KSA opens night clubs where young men and women enjoy flirt and sex. Now why women are scared of young boys,the women should be sent to jails instead boys. Women are equal to men. Women can harras the boys too. So What KSA should do?

  6. You know, if these kids had a normal upbringing where genders mix from birth, and they learn how to relate in a respectful manner to each other, this would be a non-issue. I live here. No I am not Arab, Muslim or Saudi. But I also do not see every male, Saudi or not as a potential threat to me safety and well-being.

  7. sami, on April 28, 2012 at 11:03 am said: ….. Should KSA opens night clubs where young men and women enjoy flirt and sex. ….. So What KSA should do?


    I think you are on to something. Yes, the segregated/apartheid ridden kingdom should open segregated/non-alcoholic night clubs to provide a safe forum/venue for young boyz and girlz to meet, flirt and whatever it leads to.

    This way, both boyz and galz can throw their phone numbers (and hearts) over the segregated barriers to unsuppress and satisfy their Allah-given raging hormones :)-

  8. @HonestAbe
    You mean that Boys and girls should be trained right from birth that these are the parts of your body and you can you whenever you want to use—-no harm. Pleasure is every ting whatever the way one does. Sex before or after marriage doesn’t matter. Boyfriend Girlfriend is the name of doing every thing whateverwhenever. Ofcourse I agree when grow adult there will be no problem —–no feelings—-no harassment.

  9. The only harassment that I’ve ever seen going on in a mall is from the muttawa. However, I did observe some fun going on at the exits as the mall was closing and it looked like it was mutually acceptable. Young women waiting for rides had their cell phones out ready to get their flirt on with guys who drove by repeatedly with their phone numbers on display. I’d guess that the segregation thing isn’t working!

  10. Most of it is harmless but perhaps annoying…young guys who want to throw their phone number at a woman. What is funny is how these guys may attempt to throw their number at any woman, young or old!

    It can be concerning when there are a group of young men who happen to catch a woman wanting to cross the street as that is when they may try to approach and circle her. That is not good and dangerous.

    I agree that part of this is certainly due to the segregation and lack of experience in simply knowing how to mix. Additionally there are fewer outlets or activities for young men to go to as compared to young women. Some of the men may also be bored and view chasing the women as fun sport.

  11. Sami, I hate to disappoint you, but people do not have sex in nightclubs. I don’t know where you get your information about the ”Wicked West” but your sources are seriously flawed, and probably some totally deluded sex-crazed lunatics.
    The ”Wicked West” is a normal place where people behave, dress and meet each other in a normal social and healthy way. That is all.

  12. Sami, perhaps you should go to Bahrain and see how the Saudis enjoy the nightclubs and bars there.

  13. @Wendy
    This is what the women wanted and they got it. what is the problem. Now they want no flirt, how comes.

  14. Sami:

    Stop believing the damn fairytale shows that you see in the western countries. There is a reason it is a movie and that is because it is not real. Next most parents watch over the kids pretty well but they allow for normal mixing typically in a chaparoned environment. In addition, most westerns try very hard to instill that sex is normal but that it has consequences and that you really need to wait until you are married are a least involved in a long term relationship as fly by night relationships can be damaging to the self-esteem, body or future depending on the situation.

  15. Sami, what did I ask you?

  16. @wendy
    What did you ask? Go to Behrain? wHY? I enjoy in england. You might be missing the night clubs not me.

  17. I was referring to your post about nightclub behaviour and from this comment I guess you go to England to have sex in nightclubs. What clubs, Sammy? Bathhouses? Must be if you’re having sex.
    Anyway, I already live in the free world of Canada so can access a club any time my heart desires. BTW, do you know sex in a nightclub is illegal and doesn’t happen in the free world?

  18. Sami, men and women in the United States are expected to be able to control sexual impulses. The police would be called if someone had sex in a nightclub; however I honestly do not frequent nightclubs so if you saw someone having sex in such a situation, I’d have to bow to your superior experience.

    In the US, It is very important for men and women to be able to work and interact together without giving in to sex drive. Some of course do but this is seen as shameful by most.

    I do a lot of activities with men friends and no sex or flirting is involved. I probably have closer men friends than is typical for an American woman but platonic friendships are not unheard of in our country.

  19. @ANNIE
    Thank you. There are so many illegal actions going on in every country. Never mind.

  20. @Wendy
    I am not that stupid . I don’t mean sex in the night clubs, what I am saying that the girls are picked up from the night clubs or other clubs,like dating clubs etc etc etc. 75% boys and girls are tasting sex before marriage. It seems that sex before marraiage is permisible but after marriage NO. What a logic?
    Actually I am talking about the SYSTEM. We don’t want that system in arab. But the women want freedom of all types.

  21. What, your ”Arab” system is better?
    -Boys and girls getting together in secret,
    -sex via other orifices so the girl remains a ”virgin”,
    -sex in other countries where apparently it doesn’t count at home,
    -sex assignations with people you hardly know because normal human social interaction is unknown,
    -cyber sex,
    -the world highest number in disgusting deviant sex searches on the internet,
    -illegitimate children being abandoned,
    -women being kidnapped, raped and killed in the desert,
    -Women being abused by family members, but not able to complain about it because it will be their fault anyway,
    -women being raped, gang raped and getting punished for it,
    -maids being endlessly raped by their patrons,
    -men behaving like rabid dogs anytime a woman passes by
    -women getting re-virgin operations
    -men being allowed to have as much sex outside the country as they like
    -men being supported by religious fatwas to lie and deceive women to have sex with them and abandon them (in other countries of course)
    -The amount of homo relationships,
    -the state and religiously sanctioned pedophilia
    -the sale of young underage girls to these old pedophiles who need surgeries to get it up to rape these girls
    -etc, etc

    You really think that is a better way to construct a healthy society? I don’t, I think it’s sick, and I think if the real and complete truth about your society really came to the surface, if we really knew the truth about all the sexual abuse, child abuse, the sexual deviancy, the rapes, the hypocritical behavior, everything, if there were true statistics, it would shock everybody on the planet and shame you to silence for the rest of your life.

    You are happy to live in a sex obsessed dystopia, where everything is fake and everybody is a shameful hypocrite, where men like you can think of nothing but sex.
    In nightclubs.
    Well, to each their own.
    I am happy to live in a normal, healthy society where bad people can get punished for what they do to others, where women have rights and are seen as sentient human beings, not chattel,, and where the rest can interact in a normal, healthy, honest and honorable manner. Even if they decide to enjoy sex. A perfectly normal, healthy hobby btw, if you have it with the right persons.

  22. Regarding the so-called “arab system”, I am sure it is based on “islamic system”. Dr. Ahmad al-Baghdadi (Died/Beheaded? 2010) called this “arab/islamic system” as the Eighth & Greatest Wonder Of The World, and Wonder Of Wonders.

    For the record, Dr. al-Baghdadi is not the first Muslim to portray Islamic culture as a fantastic anachronism that has outstayed its welcome. Muhammad/Allah himself made a similar prophesy in a canonical hadith:

    “Verily, Islam started as something strange, and it will again revert to being strange, just as it began, and it will recede between the two mosques [Mecca and Medina, birthplace of Islam] just as the serpent slithers back into its hole” (Sahih Muslim 1:271).

  23. I just started reading this blog and I am amazed of all the rules that these Saudi men are going through. In America, if you go to any mall, especially during the weekends, you see young crowds of young men and women, shopping, enjoying themselves, and sometimes flirting with each other. This is normal behavior among young men and women, as long as they respect each other. I cannot imagine how a young Saudi man would feel being kicked out of a mall just by trying to talk to a young female. A while ago, I heard that in the KSA there was a lot of men that got involve into homosexual relationship with other men due the ‘segregation of the sexes’. I wonder if the Saudi government sees this as a threat to their society. They are too harsh trying to impose so many rules, this only will bring more trouble to their society as a whole.

  24. The Saudis don’t see homosexuality as a threat to society. Society dictates men will get married and have children and how they feel about their wives is not important. They can carry on whatever relationships they want on the side. Of course that is not the official stand but that is what happens, what always has happened and sadly, what will continue to happen. Gay men in KSA dream of being able to go to a society where they can be free to be who they are. I’m certain women do as well.

  25. Hi I’m Saudi girl and I am very upset that read here in the comments where I see a lot of injustice to us Saudis I feel that you do not know a lot about the nature of our lives only talking been made ​​me Mstah but I tell you in every country there are corrupt and there are good ..It is true that a very old topic history but I could not prevent myself from writing ..Thank you

  26. Hi, am not saudi but am feeling proud am working in Islamic country, if we/you are all muslims then we should follow Islamic rule, not not other country rules.

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