A six-second Snapchat led to this woman’s arrest.
Six seconds can change your life.
For a woman in Saudi Arabia, a six-second Snapchat video of her wearing a miniskirt and walking through a fort in Ushayqir, a village in the ultra-conservative region of Njad, was that moment. It also led to her detainment by police and arrest.
Over the weekend, a video was posted to Snapchat to an account attributed to a popular user and model with the user name “Khulood” that featured a young woman strolling through Ushayqir in a skirt and crop-top.
On Monday, media sources reported that a woman, believed to be “Khulood,” was being investigated by legal and religious authorities in Saudi Arabia. Her full name, however, was not released by the authorities.
“Riyadh police arrested a woman dressed in indecent clothing in the village of Ushayqir, and has sent her to the public prosecutor,” Saudi State television station, Al Ekhbariya said in a tweet. She was reportedly released a few hours later.
In Saudi Arabia, women are required by law to wear an abaya, a long loose-fitting cloak, and a head-covering. However, the country makes exceptions for foreign dignitaries. Those exceptions have included Michelle Obama, who visited in 2015, and Melania and Ivanka Trump, who visited Saudi Arabia in May.
For Saudi women, however, wearing clothing deemed “immodest,” is still banned, along with driving and opening a business without male permission. Each act is considered a punishable crime.
And so the video has sparked debate through social media over Saudi Arabia’s conservative and controversial dress code law, with some arguing that the law reflects Saudi culture and should be respected.
“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 writer Ibrahim al-Munayif wrote on his Twitter account, according to the Washington Post.
Others say the dress requirement is discriminatory against women.
“Saudi Arabia’s purported plans to reshape society and advance women’s rights will never succeed as long as authorities go after women for what they wear,” Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division, told the Washington Post.
The debate also included discussion on women’s dress policy in the workplace, which if violated, can incur fines of up to $300, according to the Washington Post.
Police said that the woman detained told them she was with a male guardian the entire time she was in Ushayqir and that she did not post the video herself, the Guardian reports. She did not offer a statement or alternative explanation as to how the video was released.
“She admitted to visiting the site in question with a male guardian, and that the viral videos were published by an account attributed to her without her knowledge,” the Riyadh police said in a statement, according to CNN.
And although she denies posting the video herself, her choice and bravery to wear immodest clothing was seen as inspiration by some.