Shoura Council on the right track

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It was refreshing to read that finally the anti -harassment law that had been languishing in the Shoura Council for a considerable period of time mustered enough positive votes to be approved and be sent to the Council of Ministers for ratification. The full details will be released soon.

Harassment is a social disease. Simply defined, it is the act of systematic, persistent and unwanted actions by an individual or a group against another. The types of such vile acts are not simply confined to sexual harassment. It also includes racial prejudice, personal malice, an attempt to force someone to quit a job, apply illegal pressure to collect a bill, or merely gain sadistic pleasure from making someone fearful or anxious.

In many countries, such activities may be the basis for a lawsuit if they are due to discrimination based on race or sex, are a violation of the statutory limitations on collection agencies, involve revenge by an ex-spouse, or are shown to be a form of blackmail or a demand for sexual favors. In keeping up with the times, many countries have modified their laws to include electronic harassment via the Internet.

In this country, the laws were not clearly defined. Yes, one was not expected to bother someone else, but the rights of the grievous party were not known. Because of previously existing social mores, quite often the victims were further victimized by their reluctance to pursue justice against their aggressors, all too well knowing that they would be placed at blame for being in the wrong place or for a host of other reasons.

But our society is changing fast and let’s be honest, the anti-harassment laws have come at the right time. One of the predominant harassment issues is that of deviate men against women. Be it in person or on social media, the aggressors for long had been getting away with it because in the few cases where the victims took their assailants to court, the verdict was not encouraging.

But as more and more women are entering the work force, these laws should serve as a stern reminder to any male supervisor of a female workforce that he must ensure respect and integrity in his dealings without any form of personal encroachment in any form. Women should be free from having to deal with lecherous advances when they set about earning an honest living.

Another frontier where harassment can be expected is on the road once women take to the wheel. This will be happening soon, and those laws should hopefully come as a wakeup call. Our society has lived so long with women kept in the background that the sight of a woman driving her car might send some men into a frenzy. I hate to imagine the possibility that there might be females on the road being chased by a pack of deviate males.

Such incidents will happen unless there are strict laws to prevent them. And having said that, it is not just the existence of strict laws. The Kingdom has plenty of strict laws on the books. It is about implementing and enforcing them, which from past experience has not been very encouraging. A much better show is needed.

Once passed, the laws should be widely publicized via state media, newspapers and social media. Security patrols should be out in full force with no mercy given to any offenders who chase or terrorize female drivers on the roads. They should be rounded up immediately and hauled off to jail to await their day of judgment.

These are our mothers and sisters, wives and daughters that are on the road and their safety is of paramount importance.

The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena


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