Sexual blackmail in Saudi
Photos of Saudi women used to obtain sexual favors do not have to be indecent or lewd ones to leverage a threat to family honor
In virtually all of these cases the images aren't pornographic but can be leveraged against women because of the taboo regarding the distribution of photographs of women, which is considered an attack on individual and family reputation. According to Al-Eqtisadiah daily, the researcher recommends a strategy that involves a media campaign against the crime and securing the privacy of the victims of these crimes while they are prosecuted. She also concluded that one source of blackmail material can be obtained through the transportation of female students and that such services should be strictly monitored to ensure images cannot be obtained for sexual blackmail. “Even the defective designing of some public projects assists men in blackmailing young women,” the study noted.
“Inadequate precautionary measures taken by women and their parents against blackmailing, as well as the absence of proper awareness among them about a wide variety of treacherous ploys employed by men, are the major factors leading to blackmailing.” The researcher also pointed out that sexual blackmail can lead to women committing moral crimes in order to protect their dignity and the reputation of their families. This crime is often exposed not by police, but rather members of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia). Indeed, while the Haia is harshly criticized — especially by the international media — the Saudi general public often cites its efforts in combating sexual blackmail, prostitution and liquor production and distribution to be positive attributes that enjoy wide support.
Al-Mohrej's research included defining the various types, methods and effects of sexual blackmail. Her data relies on collected anecdotes, compiled media reports and public surveys. She concluded that major factors that lead to sexual blackmail are family members that expose their daughters, wives or mothers to engaging with men for services, the decline of public and workplace gender segregation, improper women's dress or topics of conversation, and illegal seclusion (khulwa) of women with their male domestic workers, such as drivers.
In terms of cracking down on the crime, she says the Haia must first involve the male guardian (typically fathers, husbands or male siblings) and then send the woman victim for religious counseling, which could help her to be forewarned against predators. She also stresses the importance of follow-up monitoring on the behavior of a victim.