Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia said to reassess ban on women drivers (Arabian Business)

11/29/2013 -- Arabian Business -- "Saudi Arabia said to reassess ban on women drivers" Equality Now's Suad Abu-Dayyeh:

"Under the Saudi Arabian male guardianship system, women are vulnerable to a wide range of discrimination in both private and public life and have limited decision-making authority and freedom of movement,” she said.

No More Child Marriage in Saudi Arabia (Chime for Change)

7/12/2013 -- Chime for Change -- "No More Child Marriage in Saudi Arabia?"; Our campaign to end child marriage in Saudi Arabia featured on Chime for Change's story platform.

Saudi women jailed for trying to help Canadian woman (Toronto Star)

6/18/2013 -- Toronto Star -- "Saudi women jailed for trying to help a Canadian"; Middle East/North Africa consultant Suad Abu-Dayyeh comments on the case of women’s rights activists Wajeha Al-Huwaider and Fawzia Al-Oyouni:

Saudi Arabia: Protect don’t prosecute women’s rights activists

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 Jun 18
Update Date: 
2013 Jul 18
Update: 

6 NOVEMBER 2013 UPDATE: On 14 July 2013, Wajeha Al-Huwaider and Fawzia Al-Oyouni filed their appeal with the appeals court. If the appeals court upholds the District Court's decision then the activists will be imprisoned while they prepare their final appeal. The appeals court has still not issued an official decision and Wajeha is still being pressured by the government not to participate in human rights advocacy such as the right to drive campaign on 26 October. Please continue to call on the Saudi authorities listed below to overturn the activists' prison sentences and travel ban.


view as pdf

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Please join Equality Now in urgently calling for the overturning of the activists’ prison sentences and travel ban. Also, ask the Saudi authorities to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally expunge all charges against them;
  • Institute, in consultation with women’s rights defenders, concrete measures to protect women at risk of and subjected to domestic violence;
  • End the male guardianship system to remove discrimination against women and girls, including in their access to justice, safety, education and employment, and the ability to make their own life choices; and
  • Protect and promote the right of human rights defenders to peacefully advocate for human rights.

Letters should go to:

His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966-1-491-2726

H.E. Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul El Karim Abdul Azziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966-1-401-1741

Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abulaziz
Minister of Interior
Fax: +966-1-1442-0057

With a copy to: The Human Rights Commission, Fax: +966 1 461 2061, Email: info@hrc.gov.sa

 

Letters: 

Dear King Abdullah, Minister:

I am writing to you about the conviction on 15 June 2013 of two women’s rights activists, Wajeha Al-Huwaider and Fawzia Al-Oyouni, of the Islamic Sharia law offence of Takhbib, or incitement of a wife to defy the authority of her husband. They were charged after trying to give support to a woman and her children who were allegedly abused by the woman’s husband. While absolved of the charge of trying to help the woman and her children escape, they were nevertheless convicted of supporting a wife without her husband’s knowledge, thereby undermining the marriage. The District Court in Al-Khobar in Saudi Arabia sentenced them to 10 months in prison. In addition, the court banned them from leaving the country for two years following completion of their prison term.

The fact that the authorities have punished those seeking to protect human rights, but appear to have done nothing to investigate the violence allegedly perpetrated by the husband, is deeply disturbing and a breach of international law. It signifies that protecting his dominant and apparently violent position in the family is more important than ensuring his wife’s safety. I understand Saudi authorities have repeated in international meetings that the male guardianship system is not prescribed in law. However, this conviction seems to suggest otherwise.

I therefore urge you to immediately overturn the unwarranted sentences given to Wajeha Al-Hwaider and Fawzia Al-Qyouni by expunging all charges against them and removing the travel ban. I further encourage you to institute, in consultation with women’s rights defenders, concrete measures to protect women at risk of and subjected to domestic violence. Finally, please protect and promote the right of human rights defenders to peacefully advocate for human rights.

I respectfully call on you to put an end to the male guardianship system, which would remove discrimination against women and girls and allow them to fully realize their human rights. This would be in accordance with international standards, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women ratified by Saudi Arabia.

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

Cc: The Human Rights Commission email: info@hrc.gov.sa

Will Saudi Arabia end child marriage? (CNN)

5/27/2013 -- CNN -- “Will Saudi Arabia end child marriage?”; Middle East/North Africa Consultant, Suad Abu-Dayyeh on draft regulations to set a minimum age of marriage in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia: End child marriages and male guardianship over women

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 May 16

view as pdf

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Please write to the authorities below and urge them to provide safeguards to ensure that girls and women have a real choice in the timing of marriage and selection of a spouse by:

  • Adopting and implementing the proposed regulations to set a minimum age of marriage
  • Going a step further to meet the international recommended standard by raising the suggested minimum marriage age to 18 years old
  • Ending the male guardianship system to remove discrimination against women and girls, including in their access to education, employment, and justice and the ability to make their own life choices

Letters should go to:

His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966-1-491-2726

H.E. Dr. Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Ibrahim Al-Sheikh
Speaker of the Shura Council
Tel: +966-1-482-1666
Fax: +966-1-481-6985
Email: webmaster@shura.gov.sa

H.E. Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul El Karim Abdul Azziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966-1-401-1741

With a copy to: The Human Rights Commission, Fax: +966 1 461 2061, Email: info@hrc.gov.sa

Letters: 

Dear King Abdullah, Speaker of the Shura Council/ Minister:

As there is currently no minimum age of marriage law in Saudi Arabia, I welcome the 8 April 2013 proposal by the Saudi Ministry of Justice to introduce new regulations regarding the marriage age of girls. I understand that the draft regulations set 16 as the minimum age of marriage and propose preconditions to any marriage of a girl under the age of 16, which begin to offer protection to girls who would otherwise be married off with no restriction. I welcome these steps, which also reflect closer compliance with Saudi Arabia’s international obligations, and urge you to support their adoption and implementation without delay.

I respectfully call on you to go a step further, however, in accordance with international standards (including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by Saudi Arabia), by moving quickly to raise the minimum marriage age to 18 and by putting an end to the male guardianship system. Please also ensure there are appropriate safeguards to guarantee that a woman has a real choice in the timing of her marriage and the selection of her spouse. This will allow Saudi women and girls to enjoy their human rights and fulfill their aspirations.

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

Cc: The Human Rights Commission email:info@hrc.gov.sa

Equality Now discusses women's rights in Saudi Arabia (Trust Law)

6/13/2012 -- TrustLaw -- "Saudi Arabia takes tiny steps on women’s rights" Equality Now discusses women's rights in Saudi Arabia.

"Women and girls in Saudi Arabia are treated as perpetual minors living under male guardianship all their lives – with restrictions on employment, political participation, travel, education and healthcare." --Yasmeen Hassan, Global Director

Continued Call for the Repeal of Saudi Arabia's Fatwa on Women Driving

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2011 May 26
Update Date: 
2012 Jun 11
Update: 

UPDATE June 2012: Saudi activists have been advocating for the right to drive for over twenty years with the most recent effort being the Women2Drive mass driving campaign launched in 2011. 17 June 2012 marks a year since the start of the Women2Drive campaign; however the government has still not taken action to give women the right to drive. Rather Saudi activists fighting for women’s rights are being targeted by the government. Manal Al-Sharif who spearheaded the Women2Drive campaign has been persecuted for her efforts including through imprisonment, threats and the loss of her job for speaking out for women’s right to drive. TAKE ACTION NOW!

This 17 June, Saudi activists are calling for renewed support of the Women2Drive campaign by asking women and men around the world to drive to Consulates and Embassies of Saudi Arabia and honk to show their support. Please join us in supporting the ongoing efforts of Saudi women claiming the right to drive and continue to call on the Saudi government to lift the ban on women driving.

__________

UPDATE (16 February 2012): Reportedly, two Saudi women’s rights activists, Manal Al-Sherif and Samar Badawi, have filed lawsuits against the Interior Ministry for refusing to issue them driver’s licenses. They assert that because no law explicitly bars women from driving, there is no justification for refusing to issue them driver’s licenses. While the Fatwa, or religious edict, prohibiting women from driving is not legally binding, it is enforced by the authorities and so effectively has the force of law in Saudi Arabia. Equality Now supports the efforts of women human rights defenders seeking to hold the Saudi government accountable and claim the right to drive and thus freedom of movement, which is key to the realization of associated rights, including the right to education, healthcare, and employment. Please join us as we continue to support Saudi women’s efforts and urge the Saudi government to repeal this Fatwa, which violates Saudi women’s basic human rights. 

__________

UPDATE (29 September 2011): According to reports, the Saudi King has revoked a sentence of flogging imposed on a woman for driving a car in Jeddah.  The woman was sentenced to ten lashes by a Jeddah court on 27 September 2011.  Reportedly, two other Saudi women are also facing charges for driving.  Please write to the Saudi government to release any women detained or arrested for driving and issue orders that women drivers should not be detained, arrested or harassed in any way.  Please continue to express support for the women involved in the Women2Drive campaign and call on the government to lift the ban on women driving.
 

Equality Now is deeply concerned about Saudi Arabia’s Fatwa on Women’s Driving of Automobiles (Shaikh Abdel Aziz Bin Abdallah Bin Baz), 1990, and the recent arrest of Saudi women’s rights activist Manal al-Sherif who was detained on 22 May 2011 in the eastern city of Dammam.  According to reports, she was one of the organizers of an online campaign protesting Saudi Arabia’s driving ban and twice drove an automobile to further their cause.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the King of Saudi Arabia asking him to eliminate and remedy this violation by repealing this Fatwa. Urge him to ensure equality and non-discrimination for women in Saudi Arabia, both under the law and in practice. Please send a similar letter to the Minister of Justice. 

TAKE ACTION NOW!

Letters should go to: 

His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul
Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 491 2726

His Excellency Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul El Karim Abdul Azziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 401 1741

With a copy to:
The Human Rights Commission, P.O. Box 58889 Riyadh 11515, King Fahed Street, Building 373, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Email: hrc@haq-ksa.org

Letters: 

[Your Highness] [Dear Minister],

I am writing to express my deep concern about Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving as exemplified in the Fatwa issued by Shaikh Abdel Aziz Bin Abdallah Bin Baz in 1990.

For over twenty years Saudi women have been claiming their right to drive but no action has been taken by the government to address their demands. Rather the government is targeting Saudi activists for their work to support women’s rights. Reportedly, women’s rights activist Manal Al-Sherif is being persecuted for her efforts including through threats and the loss of her job for speaking out against the government. I would like to express support for these brave women and for the growing numbers of Saudi women who are claiming their right to drive, as key to their freedom of movement, and who are urging the authorities to lift the effective ban on women drivers. 

I respectfully call on you to ensure that the Interior Ministry grant driver’s licenses to qualified women applicants, and to issue clear instructions that women drivers should not be detained, arrested or harassed in any way. I urge the authorities to repeal the Fatwa and lift the ban which effectively prevents women from driving and undermines women’s ability to realize their rights. I also ask you to ensure equality and non-discrimination for women in Saudi Arabia, both under the law and in practice. 

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

Cc: The Human Rights Commission (email: hrc@haq-ksa.org)

Saudi Arabia: Give women equal opportunities to education & end male guardianship over women

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2011 Apr 5
Swsan and her father
Swsan and her father

Swsan Ali El Demini, a bright and ambitious 18-year-old Saudi girl, has dreams of getting the best education. However, Swsan’s education has been an uphill struggle.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the King of Saudi Arabia, the Minister of Higher Education, the Minister of Education and the Shura Council asking them to live up to their obligations under international law to provide men and women equal rights in education with equal access to all academic levels and equal resources and facilities. Urge them to revoke all requirements that hinder female students from pursuing their education at all stages including the requirement that a male guardian accompany any Saudi female who studies abroad on a government scholarship. Urge them to ensure that the Saudi legal and judicial system reflect the stated claim that women are not subject to male guardianship, but rather have the right, among other things, to pursue all levels of education with access to the same fields of study, educational resources and facilities and on the same terms as their male counterparts. Please send a copy to the Human Rights Commission of Saudi Arabia.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Letters should go to:

His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 491 2726

H.E. Dr. Khaled Al Anqari
Minister of Higher Education
Tel: +966 1 441 5555     
Fax: +966 1 441 9004
contact@mohe.gov.sa

H.E. Faisal Bin Abdullah bin Muhammad Al Sud
Minister of Education
Fax: +96614057279

H.E. Dr. Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Ibrahim Al-Sheikh
Speaker of the Shura Shura Council
Tel: +966 1 482 1666, +966 1 482 1666           
Fax: +966 1 481 6985
webmaster@shura.gov.sa

With a copy to:

The Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 58889 Riyadh 11515
King Fahed Street, Building 373, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Email: hrc@haq-ksa.org

Letters: 

[His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 491 2726]

[H.E. Dr. Khaled Al Anqari
Minister of Higher Education
Tel: +966 1 441 5555
Fax: +966 1 4419004
contact@mohe.gov.sa]

[H.E. Faisal Bin Abdullah bin Muhammad Al Sud            
Minister of Education]
Fax:96614057279+

[H.E. Dr. Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Ibrahim Al-Sheikh
Speaker of the Shura
Shura Council
Tel: +966 1 4821666 , +966 1 4821666      
Fax: +9661 4816985
webmaster@shura.gov.sa]

[Date]

[Your Highness] [Dear Minister],

I am writing to express my deep concern about the system of male guardianship in Saudi Arabia which among other things restricts girls’ access to education and therefore, to a successful and productive future.  Girls cannot be educated without the consent of their male guardian, can be restricted from pursuing further studies at any level, cannot leave the premises of educational institutions without permission from a male guardian and cannot travel abroad to study on a government scholarship without a male guardian.  In addition, the Saudi sex-segregated education system also provides inferior facilities and restricted curricula and fields of study to women. 

A case in point is that of 18-year-old Swsan Ali El Demini who wants to continue her studies overseas in the United States.  However, as her family requires government assistance to cover the cost of a US education, Swsan is unable to apply because of the requirement of the Saudi Ministry of Education that a male guardian accompany any Saudi female who studies abroad on a government scholarship.

I urge you to ensure that Saudi Arabia lives up to its obligations under international law to provide men and women equal rights in education with equal access to all academic levels and equal resources and facilities.  In this respect I urge you to revoke all requirements that hinder female students from pursuing their education at all stages including the requirement that a male guardian accompany any Saudi female who studies abroad on a government scholarship.  Please ensure that the Saudi legal and judicial system reflect the stated claim that women are not subject to male guardianship, but rather have the right, among other things, to pursue all levels of education with access to the same fields of study, educational resources and facilities and on the same terms as their male counterparts.

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

Cc: The Human Rights Commission (email: hrc@haq-ksa.org)
       Shura Council
 

Saudi Arabia: End Child Marriages and Male Guardianship over Women

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2010 Nov 29
Update Date: 
2012 Nov 6
Update: 

UPDATE 20 MARCH 2013: The judge heard Fatima’s case earlier than expected and in November 2012, issued divorce papers without requiring repayment of the dower. After a required 90-day waiting period, Fatima’s divorce was finalized on 10 February. We will continue to work with Saudi activists to get a ban on child marriage in Saudi Arabia.


UPDATE 6 NOVEMBER 2012: Our Saudi Arabian partners have recently informed us that as of May 2011, 12-year-old child bride Fatima is back at home with her family and has refused to go back to her husband; she is attempting to get a divorce with the support of her uncle. Her husband wants her to move back to his house when she is older, and says that he will not grant her a divorce unless he is paid a large amount of money.  A judge has scheduled the first hearing in her divorce case for 12 December 2012.

We are strategizing with our partners on legal support services for Fatima so that she can continue pursuing the divorce case. However we are concerned that the judge will rule against her unless she can find a way to pay back the dower her father has already spent. Please continue to take action and keep pressure on the King of Saudi Arabia to issue an edict banning child marriages by establishing 18 years as a minimum age of marriage, and providing punishments for adults who enter into or facilitate such unions. Call upon him to annul the marriages of child brides whose marriage contracts have been executed but who have yet to be handed over to their husbands, and to ensure that child brides already living with their husbands are given the means to annul their marriages.


Equality Now has been informed of several cases of Saudi girls being married off at the behest of their male guardians. The most recent case concerns 12-year-old Fatima from Najran who was married on 5 October 2010 to a 50 year old man who already has a wife and ten children, most much older than Fatima. Her father Ali, who is unemployed and addicted to drugs, sold her in marriage for a sum of 40,000 Saudi Riyals (approximately US$ 10,665), which he used to buy himself a car. Reportedly, Fatima’s husband bought her a PlayStation as a wedding gift.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the King of Saudi Arabia asking him to issue an edict banning child marriages by establishing 18 years as a minimum age of marriage and providing punishments for those who enter into or facilitate such unions. Call upon him to take urgent action to annul the marriages of child brides whose marriage contracts have been executed but who have yet to be handed over to their husbands, and to ensure that child brides already living with their husbands are given a real choice to annul their marriages. Please urge him to ensure that the system of male guardianship over women is abolished so that Saudi women secure the right, among other things, to enter into marriages of their choice. In this respect, urge him to support the establishment of a codified personal status law to guarantee the rights of women in marriage and divorce, ensuring that such a law is based upon principles of equality and non-discrimination. Please send a similar letter to the Minister of Justice and a copy to the Human Rights Commission. TAKE ACTION!

Letters should go to:

His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 491 2726

His Excellency Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Elkarim
Abdul Azziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 401 1741

With a copy to:

The Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 58889 Riyadh 11515
King Fahed Street, Building 373, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Email: hrc@haq-ksa.org

Letters: 

[His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 491 2726]

[His Excellency Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Elkarim Abdul Azziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966-1-401-1741]

 [Date]

[Your Highness] [Dear Minister],

I am writing to express my deep concern about the issue of child marriage in Saudi Arabia and the extremely negative impact of such marriage on girls.  A recent case is that of 12-year-old Fatima from Najran who was married by her father to a 50-year-old man with a wife and ten children in exchange for 40,000 Saudi Riyals which her father used to buy a car.  Fatima’s paternal grandfather and uncle were opposed to the marriage but could not prevent it because, as her male guardian, her father Ali had the right under Saudi law to marry her off at whatever age to whomever he pleased.  They fear that Fatima’s two younger sisters will be subjected to a similar fate.

Child marriages violate the human rights of girls by excluding them from decisions regarding the timing of marriage and choice of spouse.  International organizations such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNFPA have underscored the negative physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual and sexual implications of child marriage on girls.  Fatima’s marriage will, among other things, deprive her of an education and severely jeopardize her right to mental, emotional and physical well-being.

I urge you to issue an edict banning child marriages by establishing 18 years as the minimum age of marriage, and providing punishments for those who enter into or facilitate such unions.  I also urge you to take urgent action to annul the marriages of child brides whose marriage contracts have been executed but who have yet to be handed over to their husbands, and to ensure that child brides already living with their husbands are given a real choice to annul their marriages.  Please ensure that the Saudi legal and judicial system reflect your government’s stated claim before international bodies that women are not subject to male guardianship, but rather have the right, among other things, to enter into marriages of their choice.  In this respect, I urge you to support the establishment of a codified personal status law to guarantee the rights of women in marriage and divorce, ensuring that such a law is based upon principles of equality and non-discrimination. 

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

Cc: The Human Rights Commission (email: hrc@haq-ksa.org)
 

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