Saudi make-up artist and social media personality Sarah Al Wadani sparked outrage online after saying that women are to blame if they are subjected to harassment.
In a video she posted on Snapchat on Sunday, Al Wadani said:
"I launched my career in 2013, and in all my years of work I've never been harassed in any way even though I work with men every single day. It all really depends on how a woman handles herself around men, how she behaves and talks to them that makes a difference here."
Soon after, Al Wadani's video went viral on social media, sparking outrage among users, who refused to accept her rhetoric which blatantly blames victims of harassment for the abuse they face.
The now-viral video sparked intense backlash on social media
"Even children are being harassed, should we blame them too?"
Al Wadani's statements were widely criticized on Twitter, and people continue to respond to the controversy via the hashtag "Sarah Wadani blames victims of harassment."
People were angered by the statements
"Blaming the victim is one of the worst things a human being can do... being silent in the face of harassment is less of an offense than making excuses for it."
"I don't know why there's still so much ignorance when it comes to axiomatic things"
End of story...
Al Wadani has since issued a clarification... but it was also criticized
Amid intense backlash, Al Wadani tried to clarify her statement. She said she didn't mean 'sexual harassment' but was speaking about 'flirtation.'
"I didn't mean sexual harassment in any way but was talking about women who behave in a way that allows men to think it's OK to flirt with them."
Even after the statement circulated online, people were just not having it...
Many explained that verbal harassment, including flirtation, are both offenses that are never a victim's fault, no matter the situation.
Saudi Arabia set to criminalize sexual harassment
Earlier last month, King Salman issued a royal decree calling upon the kingdom's interior minister to draft a law that criminalizes sexual harassment and enforces penalties on perpetrators.
A copy of the decree, which circulated online at the time, read:
"Considering the dangers sexual harassment poses and its negative impact on the individual, the family and society, along with its contradiction of Islamic principles, our customs and traditions [...], the ministry shall prepare a draft law to tackle sexual harassment."
The decree also went on to note the "importance of passing a law that criminalizes it [sexual harassment] and outlines the necessary penalties that categorically prohibit such acts and deter anyone who feels tempted to commit them."
The latest move comes at a time when women in the conservative kingdom face high rates of sexual harassment.
According to a 2014 study, nearly 80% of women aged 18 to 48 said they have experienced sexual harassment in the country.
The Institute for International Research, a Canadian institute specialized in research and field studies, found that Saudi Arabia witnessed an 11.4% increase in sexual harassment rates in 2016, compared to 2014.