Two high-profile women’s rights activists have been arrested by Saudi Arabian authorities, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday, amid “an unprecedented government crackdown on the women’s rights movement” that began in May.
The latest arrests include Samar Badawi and fellow campaigner Nassima al-Sadah. Badawi is a recipient of the United States’ 2012 International Women of Courage Award, and both women have been vocal critics of the Saudi guardianship system, as well as advocating for women’s rights to vote and drive.
Human Rights Watch report that more than a dozen activists have been arrested since May 15, beginning just weeks ahead of the driving ban being lifted in June. Some still remain detained without charge, including women’s rights activists Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef, Eman al-Nafjan, Nouf Abdelaziz, Mayaa al-Zahrani, and Hatoon al-Fassi, plus several of their male supporters.
Al-Fassi, a scholar and associate professor of women’s history at King Saud University, who was one of the first women to acquire a Saudi driver’s license, was arrested just days before the driving ban was lifted.
Al-Hathloul’s Twitter feed has gone dark since her arrest earlier this year, leaving a tweet pinned to the top of her feed containing a video in which she rails against the country’s male guardianship rule.
Saudi authorities have targeted Badawi for years, including her 2016 arrest for “turning the public opinion against the state” and a 7-month jail sentence in 2010, for disobeying her father whom she claimed physically abused her after her mother passed away.
Read the full story at AFP.