When violence goes viral: Sex, abuse and cruelty stain shameless Saudi YouTube shares

Published January 27th, 2014 - 11:51 GMT

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Image 1 of 8: Throw the child down the well? The Saudi public was outraged when this video showing a father lowering his five-year-old son into a well in a bucket to clean it hit the web. Only weeks before this video was released, a child had died from falling into a similar type of well. In this video, the child is noticeably distressed.

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Image 1 of 8: Teacher tyranny: A teacher posted a video of himself disciplining a child. In the clip, the child is seen begging and crying, pleading for another chance toT improve his handwriting, only to be met with mocking from the teacher. After the video surfaced, the Ministry of Education expelled the taunting teacher and is investigating the school.

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Image 1 of 8: Workers' rights violated? With Saudi Arabia's huge controversial immigrant population, this video showing a Saudi man beating an Asian migrant for so much as 'looking' at his wife shocked the Internet. The clip has triggered human rights activists' attention.

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Image 1 of 8: Cruelty to children.. by the parent: This next video showed a father of five flogging each one of them with a stick. In the video, the children pleaded for leniency but the father became more and more aggressive after each child's beating.

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Image 1 of 8: MIA man shows up on the tube: This video sent shock through an entire community after a mentally ill man who had gone missing turned up on YouTube almost six years later. The family saw a clip of dancing in a local Yemeni market and recognized their son immediately. Police are still trying to figure out how the patient crossed borders unnoticed.

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Image 1 of 8: Traffic 'offense': A lot of Saudis have shown their anger by tweeting and posting videos of police in the region treating people in very inhumane ways, kicking and hitting, after committing traffic violations. The public is calling for investigations.

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Image 1 of 8: Child sexual abuse: A disturbing clip shows the molestation of a seven-year-old girl caught on film by a surveillance camera. The clip shows a man lifting her skirt and touching her as she waited for an elevator. Then, when the elevator arrived, the girl entered for escape only to have the man follow her into the lift. The man was arrested.

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Image 1 of 8: Extreme Saudi driving: Car-chase enthusiasts got a charge after viewing a Saudi daredevil weaving erratically in and out of traffic. The scary part? He was driving his car underneath trucks carrying large cement pylons...for the second time! Bruno Mars, the artist playing on the man's radio, did not seem to mind.

About 24% of the Middle East population uses social networks and perhaps, the largest segment of Arab users are Saudis. In fact, over half of the kingdom’s population is online.

It’s no wonder that the Saudis top the list of most active users on YouTube. Not only do Saudis use the site to view media, they also produce their own programs. Due to Saudi’s conservative nature, YouTube has become a forum for the more progressive or taboo views to be released publicly.

Policing via YouTube

This conservative tendency on culture may be why senior Saudi security authorities focused their energy on solving cases through enlisting some of these shocking videos, vigilante-style.

Recent trends are showing that the Saudis are breaking their silence in sharing videos that depict some of the practices playing out in the desert kingdom. Most of these practices fall outside the traditional and very conservative image that the Saudi state is accustomed to projecting, to include videos revealing harassment of children, beatings of Saudi workers and windows into the violence being practiced by some police.

Some of these videos have contributed to exposing crimes and bringing the accused to trial, and others have worked to reunite families. 

But more importantly, these videos break taboos and exceed the usual red lines in Saudi Arabia. They have helped to confront the idea that reality is far from the ideal that official Saudi media has insisted on for decades.

Warning: some viewers may find some of the videos listed below upsetting or shocking. Watch with caution.

1. Child in the well

2. Taunting teacher

3. Migrant worker gets a beating Saudi-style

4. Father flogs his children

5. Missing mental patient found

6. Saudi 'Rodney King' police beatings

7. Sexual abuse of child in elevator

8. Car daredevil crazy driving stunt

 

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