Refleksi: Tentu saja Lubna Alam berpakaian sesuai dengan syarat di Arab Saudia, 
yaitu tutup aurat. Sekalipun tutup aurat pun tidak dapat menghindarkan  
pelecehan seksual,  jadi  hal ini membuktikan bahwa berpakaian tutup aurat pun 
kena pelecehan.

Tuesday 28 October 2008 (29 Shawwal 1429)

      Date me or lose your job! - Sexual harassment by supervisor forces woman 
to resign
      Hassna'a Mokhtar I Arab News 
      JEDDAH: Lubna Alam, 35, was once a successful banker. She longs for the 
excitement and independence it brought her. Yet, she recalls the reasons that 
forced her to quit her job. She became fed up with her supervisor's sexual 

      "My supervisor used to call my mobile late at night for trivial reasons. 
When I ignored his calls, he'd be rude to me the next day at the office. 
Whenever we held a meeting, he'd vulgarly comment on my looks or my clothes. It 
was psychologically and emotionally disturbing, and I didn't know what to do," 
said Lubna, nervously popping her fingers.

      Lubna bent a lot of rules to keep working but was tiring of the 
situation. The straw that broke the camel's back was when her supervisor gave 
her two choices: To go out on a date with him or resign.

      With the absence of a legislated system that governs the relationship 
between men and women in the workplace, Lubna's situation is a common problem.

      In February 2008, Arab News reported that the Social, Family and Youth 
Affairs Committee at the Shoura Council was drafting a legal system to protect 
women in the workplace. The draft also included sexual-harassment laws. Local 
newspapers recently reported that the draft law suggests a SR50,000 fine and a 
prison sentence of up to three years for people found guilty of sexually 
harassing women in the workplace.

      However, even if a law is issued, most sexual harassment cases would go 
undetected because of the unwillingness of women to report them, said Mazin 
Balilah, Shoura member at the Cultural and Informational Affairs Committee and 
the person who proposed the idea of having such laws. This leads to the 
question why women shy away from reporting harassment? 

      A recent report in Al-Madinah newspaper stated that women lack awareness, 
fear society's reaction, and worry about their reputation and being accused of 
provoking men's harassment.

      Amani Al-Mohamadi is a 30-year-old saleswoman. Her work does not require 
direct communication with men. Once she struggled with a problem and had to 
consult her manager.

      "I spoke to my manager. I found him extra nice to me. He asked for my 
cell phone number and gave me his in return. He said I could call anytime. Then 
he asked me not to share the number with anyone else. He started sending me 
text messages with disgusting sexual content," she said.

      Amani confronted her manager. Two weeks later she was transferred to a 
new branch. Fearing she might lose her job and the only means of financially 
supporting her family, Amani learned to put up with her manager's twisted games 
and avoid confrontation.

      "No one supervises the workplace in terms of sexual harassment, 
especially the private sector. This has contributed to an increase in such 
incidents," said Amani.

      Suhaila Zainul Abidin, an activist working with the Saudi Society for 
Human Rights, said that many women prefer remaining silent than reporting cases 
of harassment as they worry about damaging their reputations. "The harasser is 
the one to worry. He should be punished and defamed ... this will not happen 
unless women speak," she said.

      Last week, an Egyptian man was sentenced to three years in jail with hard 
labor for sexually harassing a woman in Cairo. He was also ordered to pay the 
woman $895 in damages. In hopes of a safer work environment, women are eager to 
see the same in the Kingdom. Working women want to be assured that employers 
and coworkers will not sexually harass them.

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