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Cairo: A Saudi court has sentenced an expatriate to six months in prison on charges of sexually harassing a woman in the city of Medina.

The appeals court based in the city also ordered the defendant, an Egyptian national, to pay a fine of SR3,000 and publish the verdict in a Saudi newspaper, news portal Sabq reported.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has sought to fight sex offences and boost women’s rights as part of drastic reforms in the kingdom. In 2018, Saudi Arabia approved a law criminalising sexual harassment, making the act punishable by up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of SR300,000.

Saudi authorities have said legal punishment against sex harassment is irreversible even if the victim renounced own right or did not file a legal complaint.

If the victim is a child, a person with special needs or has been subjected to the act while sleeping or unconscious, the crime is punishable by up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of SR300,000 or one of both penalties.

The Saudi Human Rights Commission has said that in the crime of harassment, the victim’s renunciation of own right or failure to file a complaint does not deny the competent agencies the right to take the legal action they deem necessary to serve the common good.

The panel has defined harassment as any verbal expression, deed or motion carrying sexual insinuation made by a person towards another referring to the body and honour or harming modesty in any way, including modern technology methods.