A young woman in Saudi Arabia was arrested on Monday for wearing “suggestive clothing” after a Snapchat video emerged of her wearing a miniskirt, state media confirmed.
The video, in which the young woman can be seen strolling through an ancient fort in Ushayqir, Hadj province wearing a miniskirt and a crop top, quickly went viral after being posted to Snapchat by a popular user named Khulood.
— Fawaz X (@fa_waily) July 16, 2017
The video split opinion across Saudi Arabia, which has strict Islamic laws concerning women’s clothing. Typically, women are expected to wear a niqab as well as full-length robes, despite an average daily temperature of 97 degrees F.
On Sunday, a spokesperson for the Presidency of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, which serves as the country’s religious police, confirmed they were investigating the issue and taking the “necessary steps” to address a video depicting a “girl in offensive clothing.”
“Just like we call on people to respect the laws of countries they travel to, people must also respect the laws of this country,” Saudi journalist Ibrahim al-Munayif wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile on Twitter, angered Saudis called for the woman’s arrest, even initiating the hashtag “Demand_the_trial_of_Model_Khulood.”
However, female academic Amal al-Hazzani warned that the country must adapt if it wants to attract foreigners. “Let’s suppose this is an Italian tourist who wanted to know about our great past as part of our 2030 vision of not relying only on oil. Get used to that,” he wrote.
“If she was a foreigner, they would sing about the beauty of her waist and the enchantment of her eyes… But because she is Saudi they are calling for her arrest,” another tweet read.
Some have speculated that the video might be a deliberate protest against the country’s ingrained misogyny, given that it was filmed in Hadj province, known for its ultra-conservative traditions and array of Wahhabi Islamic leaders.
The woman reportedly told police that she was accompanied by a male throughout her visit, thus abiding the country’s male guardianship system, while claiming that she did not upload the video herself.
Her fate, for the meantime, remains unclear.
Saudi Arabia is notorious for its regressive treatment of women, where Sharia Law dictates that women cannot freely interact with men, drive a car, practice sports or go for a swim. All women must also wear a hijab, while many are forced to wear burqas, where only their eyes are visible.
During President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May, First Lady Melania Trump and first daughter Ivanka Trump attracted headlines after they chose not to wear headscarves throughout their visit, instead choosing modest dresses.
The needs of a 21st-century economy appear to be pressuring Saudi Arabia to modernize its attitudes. In April, the Saudi leadership officially approved the ‘Vision 2030’ program, which alongside increasing economic growth seeks to loosen some of the rules around women’s rights.