Some people like to boast about their sexual conquests, others think it uncouth to do so. Here’s a story supporting the latter group: last week, 32-year-old Mazen Abdul-Jawad was sentenced to five years in a Saudi Arabian jail and 1,000 lashes for vaunting his sexual escapades on a Lebanon-based Arabic station, LBC. The self-professed philanderer, a divorced father of four, was detained in July, shortly after appearing on the show Bold Red Line, where he detailed his technique for picking up women at shopping malls—live on TV. He also paraded a number of sex toys in front of the camera, and reflected on losing his virginity at the age of 14.
In the West, Jawad, dubbed a “sex braggart” and the “Saudi Casanova” by the Saudi press, might have simply been written off as a lout looking for his 15 minutes of fame. Not in the kingdom, where unmarried men and women are forbidden from mingling and the Islamic religious elite reigns over many areas of public life. Jawad’s TV escapade led 200 Saudis to file legal complaints against him.
Jawad’s brother says there is little hope for his eventual reintegration back into society: “Now he has been fired from his job and after his jail term it won’t be possible for him to get a job in government or the private sector because he was charged with a case of moral indecency.” Still, Jawad’s lawyer has not given up yet, insisting that the very foundation of the charges against his client is flawed. “He wasn’t talking about himself [on the television show],” lawyer Sulaiman al-Jumeii explained, adding that “the real culprit” is the television station which aired the contentious material.
LBC, which is controlled by Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, has also been punished—two of its branches have been forced to suspend programming. And Jawad’s actions have also landed some of his buddies in hot water: three friends who appeared on the show with him have each been given two-year jail sentences, and 300 lashes, for discussing sex publicly.