A minute-long video that shows two terrified women being harassed by a crowd of men in Jeddah sparked an important – yet extremely rare – discussion about sexual harassment in Saudi Arabia.
The footage captured on a mobile phone showed men jeering at two women wearing traditional abayas – which covers the body from head to toe – on a waterfront promenade in the kingdom’s capital. The clip went viral and caused a public outrage, with women’s rights activists calling for authorities to arrest the men involved.
However, there’s now a twist to the story.
Instead of being called victims, these women are now being blamed for provoking the incident. As it turns out, a newly released video reportedly shows the two women riding a quad bike on the same promenade and throwing the amused young men a traditional headpiece.
The emergence the second clip has given the officials a reason to believe that it was the women’s “seductive and tempting manner” that instigated the entire ordeal, which lead to the arrest of six Saudi men.
While it is unclear what will happen to the women, Judicial Adviser Yehia al-Shahrani called it unfair to investigate and question the men “without taking the same deserved action against those who seduced and aroused this to happen, which are the two girls.”
Harassment is quite common in the kingdom, where men and women are strictly segregated in all manners of life.
“Harassment is something you see on a daily basis. It's expected and accepted. That's how common it is,” explained women rights activist Tamador Alyami. “It only makes controversy when it's caught on camera.”