Women’s rights: Saudi Arabia: activist sentenced to eleven years in prison

Women’s rights: Saudi Arabia: activist sentenced to eleven years in prison

There have been some reforms recently. Saudi Arabia wants to appear cosmopolitan. At the same time, critics are silenced with prison sentences. Now details are becoming known in the case of a fitness trainer.

In Saudi Arabia, an activist has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for her choice of clothing and support for women’s rights, according to human rights activists. Manahil al-Utaibi was sentenced by a special terrorism court in January – more than a year after her arrest – said the organization Amnesty International.

The allegations against the 29-year-old fitness trainer related to her clothing and her calls on social networks to end the system of male guardianship in the kingdom. She also posted videos of herself without the country’s traditional abaya overdress.

Saudi Arabia’s government confirmed the arrest in December following an inquiry into the case by a UN special rapporteur. Al-Utaibi was convicted of “terror crimes,” it said. The country’s laws would protect the right to freedom of expression unless actions could “violate or exceed the limits of public order or social norms.”

Severely restricted women’s rights

Amnesty International and the human rights organization ALQST called on the kingdom to release Al-Utaibi immediately and without conditions. After her arrest in November 2022, she was physically and psychologically abused in custody. She was also held at an unknown location for several months.

Despite some reforms, women’s rights are still severely restricted in Saudi Arabia. Women still need the consent of a male relative to make important life decisions. When it comes to legal issues such as marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance, men are generally still in a much better position than women.

Mohammed bin Salman has become the country’s de facto ruler since his appointment as crown prince in 2017. Since then, he has promoted a social opening and made the country more accessible to tourists. At the same time, the suppression of critical voices and the persecution of women’s rights activists, for example, have increased in the country.

Source: Stern

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