Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Social, Family, and Youth Affairs Committee in the Saudi Shura Council is currently considering a draft regulation on sexual harassment, which aims to protect women from exposure to any possible acts of harassment in various work environments.
Asharq al-Awsat has learned from informed sources that the draft sexual harassment regulation has been entrusted to the Social, Family, and Youth Affairs Committee since the days of the former chairman of the Shura council, Sheikh Saleh bin Humaid, but the outcome is still pending. According to sources within the Shura council, the draft regulation has reached a sticking point because of the lack of mixed work environments in the Saudi labor market, which may render its approval “unlikely”.
A source within the Shura council explained that the Social, Family, and Youth Affairs Committee brought the sexual harassment draft regulation to the attention of Chairperson Dr. Abdullah al-Sheikh, after he assumed presidency of the council. However, this was accompanied by a draft regulation on child protection which was provided by the government. Dr al-Sheikh opted to study the latter regulation, and only sought what was compliant with it from the former.
The sources indicated that the Social, Family, and Youth Affairs Committee are also working on a study for a more general regulation, pertaining to protection from abuse. The sources alluded to the possibility of dispensing entirely with the draft sexual harassment regulation, in the event that protecting women from harassment in the workplace is incorporated into the general anti-abuse measures.
However, the same sources confirmed that the sexual harassment draft regulation will still be subject to an independent study within the Social, Family, and Youth Affairs Committee. It is one of six topics that will be studied by the committee, and it is expected that this will be completed during the third year the council’s fifth term, which was officially inaugurated this week.
Among the issues currently due to be studied within the Social, Family, and Youth Affairs Committee are draft regulations pertaining to the role of social education in Saudi Arabia, raising and distributing funds for charities, licensing centers for family counseling, the establishment of neighborhood centers, in addition to the issue of sexual harassment. This comes as the Shura council enters the third year [of its fifth term]. As information released by the council indicates, it has issued 154 resolutions during this term so far, on various issues where studies have been commissioned. This can be considered a “historic achievement”, as these resolutions are equivalent to the total amount issued by the council in the four years of its first session.