Last week, Saudi Arabia's public prosecution rejected an initial 10-month jail sentence given to a man involved in a sexual harassment case. Instead, officials demanded the court give him the maximum sentence possible. It also dismissed a 5,000-riyal ($1,333) fine he was ordered to pay by a local court.
The man was arrested in May for attacking a woman in her car sometime before suhoor. He spat on and licked her window, flipped her off, and pulled up his thawb as if about to reveal his genitals. The victim filmed the entire vile assault and uploaded a video of it on social media, which led to his arrest.
Based on this, public prosecution asked its presiding judge to impose the maximum sentence against the defendant under the kingdom's anti-sexual harassment law - which adds up to two years in jail and a fine of 100,000 riyals ($26,663).
This marks a change in the way officials usually deal with cases of sexual harassment in the kingdom. It also comes at a time when Saudi women continue to call for such incidents to be taken more seriously.
In the past few months, people questioned the reasons behind the increase in such cases in the country despite the fact that authorities have been trying to curb them.
Some pointed out the lack of proper implementation of the anti-sexual harassment law, explaining how incidents are reported only when they go viral - with legal outcomes or punishments remaining undisclosed.
Hundreds hailed the news as a huge step forward
"A hundred steps forwards; punishments must be a way to prevent such cases."
"Good on them"
"The best news ever"
Not everyone thinks this marks an advancement, though
"Where's the advancement in this case? The public prosecutor's job is to object to initial sentences and the final verdict comes from the court."
Sexual harassment continues to be an issue in Saudi Arabia
Despite the fact that Saudi Arabia passed an anti-harassment law, such incidents still happen on a daily basis. According to a 2014 study, nearly 80 percent of women - aged 18 to 48 - said they have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the kingdom.
The Institute for International Research, a Canadian institute specialized in research and field studies, found that Saudi Arabia witnessed an 11.4 percent increase in sexual harassment cases in 2016, compared to 2014.
The country is now more adamant than ever to take action against the alarming rates of abuse as police departments continue to make immediate arrests when any case of sexual assault comes to their attention.