A Saudi woman ended up in the hospital with a bruised jaw and broken nails after a member of the country’s religious police physically assaulted her. Thanks to her colleagues, though, part of the incident was caught on camera.
The assault took place when members of the hayaa in Arabic, or the morality police, approached a young woman sitting outside the shop where she works. According to her brother, the victim was told to go back inside, but she said she couldn’t, as she was only allowed to re-enter the establishment when her supervisors called her back inside.
As the argument escalated, colleagues started filming it, which reportedly prompted the police to “[take] their rage out on the victim.”
“This incident has left me surprised and confused all at once,” he told reporters.
Others also shared the video, demonstrating anger toward the police who were involved in this incident.
#???_????_?????_???_????? #?????_????????_????_????— ??? #????_??? (@SayHend) December 3, 2017
So this just happened in Saudi Arabia
A religion police man assaulted a young woman today and he took her phone as well pic.twitter.com/kPaBhQYOsp
#الامر_بالمعروف_تضرب_فتاه اللي يدافعون عن الهيئه ويقولون البنت تصوره وتصارخ نشوف وقتها لو صارلكم نفس الموقف وش بتسوون وش ردة فعلكم! حدكم بس كلام هنا لو صارلكم ب أرض الواقع بنعرف وجهكم الثاني حسبي الله عليكم تبررون له بعد!!— D. (@Dnnn_28) December 5, 2017
Translation: "Those who are defending the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, saying that the girl was filming the man who belongs to it and screaming at him, let's see what you would have done if you were put in a similar situation. I don't understand how you're making excuses for him!!"
it's almost 2018 and some men/women still think that men have the "right" to hit and abuse women. Tragic. #الامر_بالمعروف_تضرب_فتاه— just like rαвαв (@BigQuiffLouis) December 3, 2017
يا محتسب..— أبو البنات (@AbuElbanaat) December 5, 2017
فرض قوتك وعنفك على الناس تُظهر الإسلام وكأنه لا يملك شيئاً ليُقدمه للأجيال الحديثة، وكأنهم سيتخلون عنه بمجرد أن تتوقف سلطتك عليهم ؟!#الامر_بالمعروف_تضرب_فتاه#رجل_هييه_يعتدي_علي_موظفه pic.twitter.com/4G29x9FPIC
Translation: "Violently forcing your rules on people distorts true Islam and makes people think it has nothing to offer this generation. It's as if you think people will abandon Islam if you don't force it on them."
After approaching his sister and telling her to go back inside, the victim's brother explained, the member of the religious police "dragged her outside the store and continued to beat her, breaking her fingernails and bruising her jawline." That's when the victim called her brother, who arrived too late to avoid the violence.
"She then called me and I rushed to the place. I arrived towards the end of the attack, and saw other religious police members making a report about the incident. I also saw authorities writing their report on it, and I have a video that is proof of the entire attack."
The assailant was able to take her phone away from her as he assaulted her, reportedly yelling at her for filming him, the brother added.
Last year, the Saudi government curbed the powers of the religious police. However, this incident shows that the policy change hasn't helped to put an end to the abuse.
“How did they do this when their powers have now been restricted," the brother asked reporters. "How did they enter a store for women only? How could they beat my sister so violently? We all respect members of the religious police, but why did they not just give my sister their advice and let her go?”
On social media, the video was shared widely. Users even questioned the fact that the male members of the religious police went through the woman’s belongings, looking at photos of girls.
Before this user locked the account, the translation according to The New Arab was: Who does he think he is to go through her phone like that and to look through her photos where there are photos of girls? Who does he think he is to go through her personal stuff like this? This man has no manners.
It’s terrifying to think that in 2017, women are still victims to gender-specific violence.
As social media helps users denounce abuse and sexism, we can at least hope that reforms will emerge, especially as even the Saudi government begins to realize that things must change.