Torture allegations

Woman who dared to drive ‘whipped, beaten, electrocuted and harassed’ in Saudi prison, family says

Loujain al-Hathloul (Amnesty International)

The family of detained Saudi Arabian activist Loujain al-Hathloul have shared horrifying details of her alleged torture at the hands of the Saudi government as she and other women’s rights advocates continue to be held in prison without even being charged.

“My own baby sister said she is being whipped, beaten, electrocuted and harassed on a frequent basis,” wrote her brother, Walid, in a recent Op-Ed for CNN. “Whenever Loujain spoke about the torture sessions to my parents, her hands shook uncontrollably. I fear the pain will stay with her forever.”

“She said she had been held in solitary confinement, beaten, waterboarded, given electric shocks, sexually harassed and threatened with rape and murder … My parents then saw that her thighs were blackened by bruises,” added her sister, Alia, in an interview with The New York Times.

Al-Hathloul, 29, has faced repeated harassment from Saudi authorities since she was first arrested for protesting the country’s ban on women driving by trying to drive from the United Arab Emirates back into Saudi Arabia. She was arrested again in the summer of 2017 without being charged with a crime, only to be sent to prison once more in the summer of 2018 just before the country lifted its ban on women drivers. At least 10 other women were arrested in the crackdown — most of them activists who had fought for women’s right to drive. According to recent investigations by British lawmakers and Human Rights Watch (HRW), all have been denied access to lawyers and at least three subjected to torture and sexual assault.

HRW researcher Adam Coogle told SBS News that the brutal treatment the women were suffering was indicative of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s desire to show dissidents “that they would go to any length to eliminate criticism.”

“Of course, we have heard numerous instances of beating and torture of men over the years,” he said. “Treating women in this manner is something that we have never really heard before … I can still hardly believe it myself.”

Read the full story at SBS News.

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