Dozens of women took to social media to report sexual harassment attacks during Saudi’s Middle Beast Festival taking place in the capital Riyadh, detailing groping and undressing attempts, with the police watching and not taking action.
In a video she posted on Snapchat, an American woman called out sexual harassment she experienced herself during the festival. Even though she described the event itself as 'creative', she was furious about the level of harassment she witnessed, including Saudi women in abayas and hijabs being groped and touched throughout the night.
أمريكية حضرت الفعالية تقول:— Mareeeمار ☕️ (@MareeeMOO) December 22, 2019
-أحببت الحفل لكنني كرهت الحضور بسبب المستوى اللامعقول من التحرش
-لم أفعل شيئاً مثيراً للغرائز ومع ذلك حاول البعض الإمساك بي و تحسس جسدي
-شاهدت نساء ترتدين العبائات و محجبات و تم التحرش بهن ومحاولة لمس أجسادهن من قبل الحضور!
Translation: "An American woman who attended the event says: I liked the festival but I hated the experience because of the unbelievable level of harassment. I didn't do anything provocative but even so, some people tried to grope me and feel me up. I saw women in abayas and hijabs being harassed and groped. Savages!"
Saudi women too expressed their shock at their experience during the festival, some vowing to never attend similar events until serious action is taken. Several attendees even suggested that some security forces just watched as the sexual attacks took place without taking action.
The amount of sexual harassment was unbearable. I couldn’t take two steps without a guy coming tryna flirt of tryna touch me. I swear it is so disrespectful how these humans act like wild animals. #تحرش_ميدل_بيست— Mona? (@monkey_pistol6) December 21, 2019
#saudiMenHarassing#تحرش_ميدل_بيست— Above and beyond (@2jFe6vbw9Jbt9Ty) December 22, 2019
She said about her friend “the girl is having a breakdown, group of men blockade her and ripped her blouse and her bra, she cant stand up, she screams and no one hearing and no one can see pic.twitter.com/gACD8fkLY7
Additionally, a Saudi man posted a video in which he talked about being sexually harassed during the festival, saying that other men tried to kiss him, touch his leg and dance with him, prompting him to leave.
While some Saudi men expressed their concern about the reported harassment incidents, some blamed women for going to the festival in the first place, saying that they deserved it by attending such festivals. Meanwhile others considered these claims to be fake stories that are part of a smear campaign.
#تحرش_مدل_بيست #MDLBeast— Mazen (@MizoAy) December 22, 2019
Sexual harassment is not a joke, it should be taken seriously I’m so disappointed about what i saw tbh. I feel so bad for all the girls who attended this festival where they faced sexual harassments and shit.
#تحرش_ميدل_بيست#SaudiMenHarassing— المنشورة الطبية النسوية (@femhealtharabia) December 22, 2019
“She deserves to be harassed, nobody told her to dress in such manner infront of them”
“Good, she deserves what happened to her. This is the outcome that waits every woman who goes there, Hahahaha” pic.twitter.com/339UOPJkui
It's same style " feminism fabricates the stories ".— قرناس (@oop00qoo) December 22, 2019
They wanna to create a fakes concept about entertainment in Saudi Arabia.
There are no single real accusation.
All tweets are "fakes".
Feminism = Delusional accusations.#SaudiMenHarassing
The debate on Saudi Arabia's social media resulted in strong backlash from international activists, who attacked Western celebrities and influencers that were invited to visit and perform in the conservative kingdom, as part of a campaign Saudi Arabia has launched to portray itself as a more liberal country.
Saudi has recently incentivised tourists with a lot of activities to take part in and landmarks to visit.
Despite this, activists drew attention to the country's violations against women's rights activists, LGBTQ communities, and political dissidents.
#Thread: Saudi Arabia recently invited many celebrities around the world, to improve the reputation of Saudi Arabia, to hide the truth about Saudi Arabia. To make everyone in social media thinks Saudi has really changed! In this thread I'll just talk about Saudi women rights. pic.twitter.com/wXKPykE9bH— Rana Ahmad (@lovhum) December 21, 2019
— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) December 22, 2019
But in Saudi Arabia’s @MDLBeast, a chunk of the money that went to western celebs and influencers to market this could have been better spent on safety and legal measures to protect women. ??♀️
Celebrities and influencers who were criticized for attending and performing during the Middle Beast festival include David Guetta, Steve Aoki, Joan Smalls, Alessandro Ambrosio, Armie Hammer, and Ed Westwick.
What’s worse than an all white @revolve influencer trip? Cashing big fat checks in exchange for #content creation (aka propaganda) to rehabilitate the image of Saudi Arabia, a country said to be causing “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”, according to the United Nations. According to anonymous sources, six-figure sums were offered for attendance and geo-tagged posts. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Following the government’s pre-meditated murder of journalist Jamal Kashoggi in October 2018 , the arrest of women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul in May 2018, the outing of a gay Saudi journalist and his partner who began receiving death threats from their families (homosexuality is a crime in Saudi Arabia and punishable by death), and countless other human rights abuses, a bevy of supermodels, influencers, celebrities, and musicians convened in Riyadh for the inaugural @mdlbeast . According to @hypebeast , the electronic music festival is “one of the most significant musical events the region has ever seen”. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Saudi Arabia has been spending billions to change its image in the west, but this is sure to be the most expensive campaign yet. In a series of Instagram stories posted by transgender model @teddy_quinlivan , it was revealed that fellow model @emrata had turned down the trip, evidently aware of the country’s human rights crisis. “It is very important to me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, freedom of expression and the right to a free press. I hope coming forward on this brings more attention to the injustices happening there”, said Ratajkowski in a statement to Diet Prada. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Unfortunately, not all shared the same sentiments. There are simply too many attendees to name. Dieters, feel free to tag any attendees you know of... just in case they haven’t been reading the news. • #propoganda #jamalkashoggi #humanrights #humanrightsabuse #lgbtq #lgbtqrights #freespeech #journalism #independent #womensrights #mdlbeast #edm #electronicmusic #supermodel #influencer #content #riyadh #emrata #emilyratajkowski #teddyquinlivan #model #celebrity #dj #electronicmusic #musicfestival #wtf #smh #government #corruption #dietprada
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