Saudi Man Fights For Women’s Rights, Goes to Jail

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A Saudi man was fined 30,000 riyals (approximately 5.4 lakh rupees) and sentenced to a year in jail for posting statements which called for an end to the Muslim kingdom’s guardianship system. The court in the eastern city of Dammam convicted him of “inciting to end guardianship of women”.

Also read: Ban Burqa Wherever Legally Possible: Merkel

The man was arrested by the police while he was putting up posters in mosques in the Al-Hasa district area. The man was found to be ‘solely’ responsible for starting a widespread awareness campaign on ending the ultra-conservative nature of the Kingdom. He was reportedly also posting content through his twitter handle and online. A petition urging an end to guardianship system was signed by many in September, which the court claims that the campaign was launched by the defendant. He started the campaign after realising the amount of injustice his female relatives faced at the hands of their families.

Saudi women have been fighting for their basic rights of being treated as equal citizens of the country. Under the law, women need permission from a male guardian to do basic things like travel abroad, marriage and even be released from prisons. The law requires the woman to ideally have her father or husband as her guardian, in absence of both, even her brother or son can be made responsible for her.

The state treats its women as permanent legal minors, and it is the only country to legally prohibit women from driving.

Also Read: High Time For Women To Drive Cars, Says Saudi Prince

There was wide-spread media attention over the driving campaign #WomentoDrive aimed at changing that law…a call that was independently echoed by a Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, earlier this year.

“We’re challenging laws that are unjust.”Manal al-Sharif talking @ksc_web on her #women2drive Saudi campaign.#DayoftheGirl #breakingbarriers pic.twitter.com/k5DNLJUtaN