Can emojis be interpreted as harassment? Lawyers differ

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SAUDI GAZETTE

JEDDAH
— Lawyers are making various interpretations of the first article of the new anti-harassment law.

Some lawyers said that sending heart or kiss emojis could be construed as harassment.

The first article of the new anti-harassment law reads: “For the purpose of applying this law, harassment is defined as all utterances, actions, and gestures conveying sexual connotation delivered from one person to another through any medium including modern technological devices.”

Khalid Al-Babtain, a lawyer, said that sending emojis on social media to an unrelated woman can be considered a crime in the new law.

Al-Babtain’s interpretation has evoked mixed reaction on social media.

Mohammad Al-Wohaibi, a legal consultant, was quoted by Ajel online newspaper as saying that the basis of the laws in the Kingdom is good intention.

He interpreted the first article as criminalizing actions that have sexual undertones.

Al-Wohaibi advised victims to go through proper channels to complain about harassment instead of posting videos on social media which may land them in legal trouble.

Adnan Al-Saleh, another lawyer, noted that even if the victim drops the case against the harasser the law states that there will still be a public right case which will be determined by the investigator at the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution.

Latifah Al-Shaalan, a Shoura Council member, noted that it is time now for the Human Rights Commission to start an awareness campaign among the public about the anti-harassment law.

She said that ministries should work together to increase public awareness about the law.


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