A video showing a Saudi child in school uniform being molested by a man has gone viral on the internet raising public outcry and calls for child protection measures.
The footage showed a seven-year-old schoolgirl standing in front of an elevator. The man then looks around to check if anyone is on the staircase before he turns to the girl and begins lifting up her dress and starts touching her.
The incident reportedly took place in the city of Dammam.
Ziad Alriqaiti, the police chief on the Eastern Province, said authorities were able to identify the man and had arrested him on Thursday.
Early investigations show that the man is a Saudi citizen in his 20s and seems to have behavioral disorders, police said in a statement.
The 47-second video was heavily shared among social media users and received more than 175,000 views before it was taken down on YouTube. But other versions of the view were later posted.
Twitter users created the hashtag #GuySexuallyHarassingALittleGirl as they began an intense discussion about the incident.
They called for strict punishments against child molesters and more awareness campaigns to fight them.
Others used the hashtag to share cartoon awareness videos that show parents how to teach their children to act if exposed to harassment.
More hashtags, such as #Dont_Touch_Me , #I_Reject_ Harassment taken from a book by Saudi writer Hind Khalifa, were later created.
Suhaila Zine el-Abidine, member of the Saudi Arabia National Society for Human Rights noted the parents’ responsibility in educating their children about child abuse.
Abidine, for example, pointed to how the girl did not cry or show any act of resistance to the harasser.
“There wasn’t any kind of resistance; she didn’t cry. This is a proof that the parents did not teach the girl how to react in case someone approaches her. She must cry, resist, and seek the attention of people,” Abidine told Al Arabiya News Channel.
Abidine said those found guilty of child abuse should be named and exposed to public shame.
“The perpetrators must be punished severely and must be defamed,” she said.
She noted that even if early investigations claim that the man suffers mental disorders, this should not be used as an excuse to commit such acts.
“He shouldn't be left to harass children and women without punishment, accountability, treatment or anything else,” she said.
Calls against child abuse in Saudi Arabia have become louder in recent months. Last year, Saudi activists expressed disdain over a picture that showed a young child plastered against a wall with duct tape while an adult man slept on a couch underneath him “smiling.”
Maatouq al-Sharif, a member of Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission, said: “Such behavior has an impact on the child’s personality. This also promotes the culture of violence against children.SHOW MORE