Saudi court jails man for supporting women activists

Saudi court jails man for supporting women activists

Earlier this year,  Saudi women began been tweeting hundreds of thousands of messages denouncing the practice of male guardianship.

Guardianship grants full legal control of almost all of a woman’s lifestyle decisions to her closest legal male guardian, whether it’s her father, her husband or, in some cases, her son. This legal status lasts the woman’s whole life.

Saudi women, bloggers and activists have been using the hashtags #TogetherToEndMaleGuardianship and #StopEnslavingSaudiWomen to call for reform and to speak about how the practice has affected their lives – from barring them from work or studying to generally depriving them of freedoms men enjoy without hindrance.

The campaign was also propelled by the American NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), which used the hashtag #TogetherToEndMaleGuardianship to promote a recently published report denouncing the practice.

HRW’s report came with a series of animated videos telling the stories of women whose guardians had abused their already extensive authority.

The report also described the practice of male guardianship as:

The most significant impediment to realiaing women’s rights in the country, effectively rendering adult women legal minors who cannot make key decisions for themselves.

It’s now been reported that a Saudi man who supported the women has been jailed for one year.

The unnamed man was also fined 30,000 riyals ($8,000) by a court in the eastern city of Dammam, for “inciting to end guardianship of women” in statements he posted on Twitter and in public posters.

He was arrested while putting up posters in mosques in al Hasa district calling for an end to the globally unique system that subjects women in the ultra-conservative kingdom to male control. During questioning, police found out that the man was also behind a wide online campaign to end the guardianship.

The defendant admitted pinning up the posters in several mosques, saying he solely launched an “awareness campaign” after finding that:

Some female relatives were facing injustice at the hands of their families.

Under the guardianship system a male family member, normally the father, husband or brother, must grant permission for a woman’s study, travel and other activities. Activists say that even female prisoners have to be received by the guardian upon their release, meaning that some have to languish in jail or a shelter beyond their sentences if the man does not want to accept them.

The womens’ campaign angered religious officials. The country’s most prominent religious figure, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh said that any call to abolish male guardianship constituted a “crime” against Sunni Islam.

14 responses to “Saudi court jails man for supporting women activists”

  1. Paul says:

    I am afraid that the words in the tweet on the photo are exactly how many Saudi men think and behave towards women – and women are all of that. And it is sad but so too is this the case in many Islamic countries and those that are not – India for example.
    The institution of marriage in the U.K. Is a fine example of a woman being property whereby a father is sought permission for her to marry and at a cringy church wedding a father gives her away. If that isn’t property I’m not sure what is.

  2. Newspaniard says:

    I checked the OED but could not find “realiaing”. Is this one of those godawful “Websters” words?
    Come on, @Paul. It is a tradition of respect to ask the bride’s father as he has to foot the bill for the reception. In the christian tradition, no-one gets killed if he refuses, unlike some in cults I could mention (OK, one cult). Most brides these days insist that their Dad be consulted. Please don’t make something out of nothing. You are beginning to sound like one of these feminist women who will scream and shout over a trivial matter but stay silent over FGM.
    Is this really “Abuse a commenter week”?

  3. Dawkstein says:

    If muslim women want to be free of male domination and control then cast of the burqha. That would be a very good start indeed. A great many women would be murdered, beaten, executed, raped and expelled from their homes but if they kept it up for long enough and stopped being combined domestic appliances and sex toys (ie by refusing to do all things muslim men demand of their women) then the battle would soon be won.

  4. Steve says:


    Or they’d run out of women.
    Either way it’d still work.

  5. Paul says:

    That’s not a burqua – these are presumably Saudi women so it’s a Shayla, an abaya and a full face veil.
    And if they’re Saudi women – I just realised where are all their guardians?

  6. L.Long says:

    I made sure my daughter’s husband could never abuse her, as by 12yrs she knew how to kill, and by 16 could beat the crap out of most males. These women do not have much of a chance at survival in @Dawkstein because they are trained and brainwashed into servitude. Here again we see the thrill of living happily under a Dogma-cratic (more inclusive then theocratic) gov’mint!!!

  7. Strangely, those women in the photograph above closely resemble the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. I wonder what the Grand Mufti would say if he realised this? Mind you, having myself had several dalliances with Saudi males in my shady past, and knowing well their desires, weaknesses, foibles and peccadilloes, the Grand Mufti, highly aroused and no doubt in a state of tumescence, would almost certainly be only too pleased to get his paws on one of the Sisters!

  8. AgentCormac says:

    Sorry for being repetitive, but I previously posted the link below right at the end of an earlier FT thread, so I’m sure many of you maybe didn’t get to check it out. Here is a fellow non-believer of ours taking 2,000 lashes in Saudi just for tweeting about his atheism. 2,000 lashes! And just look how the bloke meting it out is giving it everything he’s got. If our brother survived the beating (which is highly unlikely) he then faced 10 years in a Saudi prison. These bastards are barbaric, inhumane scum. But doesn’t our UK government just love kowtowing to them so they’ll keep buying our tanks, warplanes and other weapons of terrifying destruction? The world is completely fucked.

  9. Broga says:

    @AgentCormac: “The world is completely fucked.” I regret to say you are right because humans are beyond hope. I have been reading a book about the way the UK navy patrolled the African coast in its efforts to stop the slave trade. The slaves were packed, unable to stretch or stand, covered in their own shit and piss, starving and dying.

    The effect on the reader is to feel great sympathy for these wretches. However, I later discover that when some of those rescued by the navy were freed they became slave traders themselves. Really, what chance has the human species got?

  10. 1859 says:

    @ Broga et al: A provocative thought – if the whole world, every woman, child and man became atheist, would we create paradise? The rational pessimist in me , of course, screams ‘No way!’ The irrational optimist in me ain’t sure.

  11. 1859 says:

    Also a Happy 2017 to all my fellow Freethinkers – let’s help keep the light burning.

  12. Paul says:

    Interesting which race started the African slave trade – oh yes the Arabs. That’s Islam for you.

  13. Dave says:

    Saudi men seem to lack the power of reason, common sense and any understanding of reality. I wonder if any study has been carried out to determine if they have smaller sized brains than average.

  14. Newspaniard says:

    @Dave. I suspect inbreeding is the problem.