Saudi Arabia passes draft law to combat sexual harassment amid crackdown on women's rights activists
Saudi Arabia has passed a draft law aimed at combating sexual harassment amid a crackdown on women's rights advocates.
The advisory Shura Council approved the so-called anti-harassment crime law on Monday, the state-run SPA news agency reported.
The law sets punishments of up to five years in prison and fines of 300,000 Saudi riyals ($80,000) for people found guilty of sexual harassment, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya said.
King Salman ordered officials to prepare the legislation last year.
The monarch argued that sexual harassment posed a danger to society and contradicted Islamic principles.
A 2014 study showed 78 percent of women in Saudi Arabia had experienced sexual harassment.
The move comes weeks before the kingdom lifts its ban on women drivers.
Saudi police recently arrested 11 women's rights advocates in a sweeping crackdown.
Authorities accused them of "suspicious contact with foreign parties", providing financial support to hostile nations and attempting to undermine the kingdom's "security and stability".
Four of the detained activists have since been released.
The crackdown has sparked a torrent of global criticism, casting a shadow on the kingdom's much-publicised liberalisation push launched by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The self-styled reformer has sought to break with long-held restrictions on women and the mixing of the genders, with the decades-old driving ban on women slated to end June 24.