Saudi Arabia Sentences Activist To 11 Years For Supporting Women’s Rights

( – While women in America enjoy equal rights to their male counterparts, the same can’t be said for some other countries. In Saudi Arabia, for example, there has been some headway, but women still face discrimination in many areas. An activist in the country was recently sentenced to jail over the issue.

In 2022, Manahel al-Otaibi was arrested for “her choice of clothing and support for women’s rights” in Saudi Arabia. The case was eventually moved to the Middle Eastern country’s terrorism court. Then, she was quietly sentenced in January to 11 years in prison for her actions, which consisted of promoting female empowerment online. She’s also accused of using a controversial hashtag in the country, “#societyisready,” calling for an end to male guardianship rules. This rule mandates that every woman has a male guardian with the authority to make decisions on her behalf. There’s no autonomy.

On April 30, Amnesty International issued a statement calling for Saudi Arabian officials to “immediately and unconditionally release” the fitness instructor and activist. Its Campaigner on Saudi Arabia, Bissan Fakih, said her conviction and sentence “is an appalling and cruel injustice,” and she had been subjected “to a relentless catalgoue (SIC) of abuses,” including unlawful detention, secret interrogation, and “repeated beatings.” Al-Otaibi was an early supporter of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, believing that his promises of reform would come to fruition.

Al-Otaibi’s sister, Fouz al-Otaibi, was also summoned for questioning in 2022, but she fled the country before authorities could detain her. They have another sister, Maryam, who was previously detained and held but was released in 2017. She, like her siblings, protested the male guardianship rules.

Other Saudi women who have spoken out have received similar sentences, per Amnesty International. These include Salma al-Shehab, Fatima al-Shawarbi, Sukaynah al-Aithan, and Nourah al-Qahtani, who have received sentences of 27, 30, 40, and 45 years, respectively.

Copyright 2024,