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Saudi Arabia seeks to criminalise sexual harassment

Riyadh – Saudi Arabia is preparing to outlaw sexual harassment, officials said Tuesday, less than a month before the kingdom lifts its decades long ban on women driving.

The kingdom’s Shura Council, which advises the cabinet, approved a draft law on Monday which would introduce a prison term of up to five years and a penalty of 300,000 riyals ($80,000).

The draft bill “is a very important addition to the history of regulations in the kingdom”, Shura Council member Latifa Shaalan was quoted as saying in an information ministry statement.

“It fills a large legislative vacuum, and it is a deterrent,” she added.

The kingdom’s driving ban on women is slated to end June 24, as part of a highly publicised liberalisation drive launched by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who styles himself as a progressive reformer.

The prince has also lifted a decades-long ban on cinemas, allowed mixed-gender concerts and clipped the powers of the long-feared religious police.

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