A Saudi Arabian model has been arrested for wearing a miniskirt, crop-top and her hair out in public.
The model, reportedly known as Khulood, was flouting the country’s strict dress code, which requires women to wear an abaya – a loose-fitting cloak which covers down to the ankles – and cover their hair.
“Riyadh police have detained the woman who appeared in indecent clothing in Ushaiqir and referred her to the public prosecutor,” Saudi state TV channel Ekhbariya reported.
Khulood’s bare legs, arms and hair were pixelated in some local reports.
Rodger Shanahan, a research fellow at the Lowy Institute, told The New Daily the dress code varied depending on the woman.
“For western women, you don’t necessarily have to have your hair covered but you have to have an abaya,” Mr Shanahan said.
The religious police had confirmed on Twitter it was in contact with relevant authorities. Local authorities requested the provincial governor and police take action against Khulood, according to the BBC’s English translation of Okaz newspaper.
Actions taken against the woman could range from a “stern talking-to” to legal action.
— فاطمة العيسى (@50BM_) July 16, 2017
“That would also depend on who she was and what country she was from,” Mr Shanahan said.
“If she was a foreign person she may well get harshly spoken to and expelled from the country.”
Dr Jessie Moritz, of ANU’s Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, added: “Wearing a mini skirt and crop-top in the highly conservative Najd region definitely fits into the most inflammatory of acts. Wide publicity … is also problematic, as it can prompt the ruling family to react more harshly, making an ‘example’ of her designed to reinforce their support among conservative and religious Saudis.”
Khulood is a Saudi woman, according to reports.
Dr Moritz and Mr Shanahan both said there was no way to speculate what a maximum penalty could be, because the religious law was open to interpretation and there was no standard practice.
Women are banned from driving in Saudi Arabia, and women have dissented in recent years. Local women’s rights campaigner Loujain al-Hathlou, 27, was detained for 73 days after attempting to drive over the border to Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates.
Wajjeha al-Huwaider was arrested after filming herself driving on International Women’s Day in 2008.
In April, women filmed themselves walking in public without male companions as part of the resistance against the driving ban.
Khulood’s Snapchat video was shared over Twitter and sparked national debate over whether she was brave or ought to be arrested.
“We respect the laws of the country. In France, the niqab is banned and women are fined if they wear it. In Saudi Arabia, wearing abayas and modest clothing is part of the kingdom’s laws,” one wrote.
Another said: “Why all this fuss? You turned your eyes away from all the catastrophes in the world and the only thing that outraged you is a woman not wearing an abaya?”
Khulood’s Snapchat is only directed towards women, a Twitter user said.
“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 said.
US President Donald Trump’s wife Melania and daughter Ivanka both refused to wear abayas or headscarves during a recent visit to Saudi Arabia.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and former US First Lady Michelle Obama all declined to abide by the religious custom.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has worn headscarves in Saudi Arabia, but not an abaya.
The religious law also requires women to restrict the time they spend with men they aren’t related to. Men and women are segregated in most public buildings and public transport, for example.
In May, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued a decree allowing women to access government services without consent from a male guardian.