Skip to main site content.

Guardianship laws

Woman imprisoned for disobeying her father released after 104 days

By WITW Staff on August 1, 2017

Women’s rights activist and alleged domestic abuse survivor Mariam al-Otaibi has been freed from prison, 104 days after her father demanded she be jailed.

In April, Al-Otaibi was reportedly arrested on charges of disobedience under Saudi Arabia’s guardianship law. Women arrested under the guardianship law can be held in prison until such a time as their male guardian decides otherwise. According to the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Al-Otaibi had previously alleged having suffered physical abuse at the hands of her brothers in retaliation for leading social media campaigns against male guardianship such as this year’s “#IAmMyOwnGuardian” campaign. Al-Otaibi was reportedly first threatened with arrest by her father after she told police about the alleged abuse, a move that prompted her to drop the charges against her brothers. Otaibi was nonetheless arrested in April, shortly after telling followers on Twitter that she didn’t want to “go back to the hell” of living with her family.

Activists hailed Al-Otaibi’s release from prison as a pioneering case, since she was reportedly granted her freedom against the wishes of her father — despite his legal status as her male guardian.

“This seems to be the first time a #Saudi woman is released without a guardian — unprecedented,” noted Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy on Twitter.

A statement posted from Al-Otaibi’s Twitter account thanked followers for their support in her fight for women’s rights.

“Don’t let others tell you you can’t achieve,” read the statement. “You can achieve whatever you want if you put your mind to it and believe you can.”

Read the full story at The Independent.


Women risk prison to flee abusive homes in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia relaxes guardianship laws, allowing women to travel and study without man’s permission

Saudi women seek asylum in U.S. to escape male guardianship