An Activist from Saudi Arabia Received an 11-year Prison Sentence for “Supporting” Women’s Rights.

An Activist from Saudi Arabia Received an 11-year Prison Sentence for “Supporting” Women’s Rights.

A young Saudi activist for women’s rights was detained for “her choice of clothing and support for women’s rights,” and an anti-terrorism court secretly sentenced her to 11 years in prison.

In a statement to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Saudi authorities verified that Manahel al-Otaibi was found guilty on January 9 of what the Saudi government referred to as “terrorist offences.”

A Saudi anti-terror law that makes it illegal to use websites to “broadcast or publish news, statements, false or malicious rumors, or the like for committing a terrorist crime” resulted in Al-Otaibi’s sentencing in a covert hearing before the counterterrorism court.

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have charged Otaibi with a number of offenses, including using the hashtag #societyisready to advocate for the abolition of laws governing male guardianship. Although Fouz al-Otaibi, her sister, was also charged with not dressing appropriately, she managed to escape Saudi Arabia before to being taken into custody.

A well-known supporter of women’s rights, Maryam, is a different sister who was arrested, incarcerated, and ultimately freed in 2017 for opposing guardianship laws.

Rights organizations Amnesty International and ALQST urged Saudi authorities to free al-Otaibi immediately and without conditions, stating that her detention “directly contradicts authorities’ narrative of reform and women’s empowerment.

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