Bahrain to tighten laws against harassment

January 9, 2011

Bahrain’s parliament will, this week, push through an amendment that will stiffen penalties for sexual harassment.

Under the new law, anyone who harasses a girl or a woman verbally or physically will be sent to prison or pay a fine of 500 Bahraini dinars (Dh4,883) or both. The current fine is 20 dinars.

The draft law, expected to be endorsed by the lower chamber on Tuesday, includes harassing women or girls through the Internet, phones or any other electronic device.

MPs hope that the new law would help curb a rising tendency among young men in Bahrain to use online chats and text messaging to harass women or, in some cases, blackmail them. Street harassment, however, remains rare in Bahrain.

The lawmakers will also debate a draft law to toughen penalties for eavesdropping or reading other people’s mails without their permission.

According to the draft, anyone charged with either offence will be sent to prison for six months and fined 500 dinars.

Last week, BBC News reported that two security researchers demonstrated how mobile calls and texts made on any GSM network can be eavesdropped upon using four cheap phones and open source software.

Karsten Nohl and Sylvain Munaut showed their eavesdropping toolkit at the Chaos Computer Club Congress (CCC) in Berlin.

The work builds on earlier research that has found holes in many parts of the most widely used mobile technology and the pair spent a year putting together the parts of the eavesdropping toolkit.

Nohl said many of the pieces in the eavesdropping toolkit already existed thanks to work by other security researchers but there was one part the pair had to create themselves.

The kit demonstrated at the Berlin event costs far less than the 38,000 euros (Dh182,691) for the commercial equipment that could be used to spy on calls.

The Motorola phones used to grab data, for instance, cost only 10 euros each.

However, despite showing off the entire eavesdropping kit, there were no plans to release all of it for others to use, Nohl said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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