Saudi Arabia has said a woman who was detained after wearing a miniskirt in a video that went viral has been
released without charge.
The decision not to press charges was a rare win for supporters of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, who criticised the
public outcry against her.
It also comes as Saudi Arabia overhauls its prosecution system under a new, young heir to the throne who has taken
steps to try and modernise the country and its public image.
The viral video and the reaction to it in Saudi Arabia prompted police to bring the woman in for questioning for wearing “immodest clothes” in violation of the kingdom’s conservative Islamic dress code.
Her release from detention without charge suggests that the subsequent international attention may have helped her
Some women fleeing allegedly abusive families have languished in prison without charge, and others in the past have
been imprisoned for defying Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving.
The young woman drew attention over the weekend when the video appeared online showing her walking in a historic village north of the capital, Riyadh, wearing a miniskirt and crop top, and showing her hair.
Saudi rules require all women living in the kingdom, including foreigners, to wear long, loose robes known as abayas in public.
Most Saudi women also wear a headscarf and veil that covers the face.
A statement released by the Centre for International Communication said the woman was released on Tuesday evening after a few hours of questioning and that she told investigators that the video was posted without her knowledge.
“She was released without charge and the case has been closed by the prosecutor,” the statement said.
It is common in Saudi Arabia to see heavily blurred or pixelated images of women’s faces on billboards and storefronts — in stark contrast to the many towering images of senior male royals displayed across the country.
Conservatives and others angered by the video took to Twitter, writing that she violated rules and should be arrested to set an example.
Others rushed to her defence, questioning why the video had sparked such outrage when violations that affect human rights, for example, have not led to similarly fierce internal debate.