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Paul McLoughlin

Saudi men complain of harassment by women

Jeddah men have complained about being pursued by women while shopping [AFP]

Date of publication: 31 December, 2015

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Blog: A shopping mall in Jeddah has said that sixteen men made complaints about being harassed by women while visiting stores, in what many believe to be a growing trend.

A mall in conservative Saudi Arabia has been hit by a spate of harassment cases, as a growing number of male shoppers make complaints about cat-calling and being followed by women.

There have been 16 cases so far at one of the largest malls in Jeddah, one of Saudi Arabia's more liberal cities, Makkah news reported this week.

Most of the complaints relate to verbal harassment, with Saudi Gazette saying men had complained to security staff about women calling out their names in public and following them between shops.

The mall's general manager said CCTV footage appears to corroborate the men's accusations.

The men did not file formal complaints fearing "social stigmatisation", the newspaper reported.

Young Saudi men interviewed by the newspaper were aware of the trend - but said it was something Jeddah men "preferred not to discuss".


Most said they would simply walk away if pursued by a woman, while another joked they would inform the country's notorious religious police.

The men also believed the solution was to enforce even stricter punishments and restrictions against women in public.

And so much for sororal solidarity - one Saudi woman interviewed said she believed the wolf-whistling women were merely hoping to get a wedding proposal.

Despite strict gender segregation laws in the country, women are the more frequent targets of harassment and molestation in the kingdom. Many of the country's laws are skewed against women's rights, to put it mildly.

One "fake pilgrim" was arrested in August for harassing women close to Islam's holiest site, the black Kaaba stone in Mecca. He was sentenced to four years in jail and 1,000 lashes.

Another video shared on social media in July showed two veiled Saudi women being molested by a group of men near Jeddah's waterfront. 

And one Saudi woman became something of a feminist icon after famously beating a harasser with a broom at a mall in the kingdom's eastern province.

Saudi Arabia, like many Gulf countries, does not have laws against harassment and most cases go unreported by women.

However, Riyadh's Justice Ministry recorded 4,000 cases of sexual harassment over the past two years.


 

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