Women who fought for the right to drive face 20 years in prison. Reports suggest that many of them have been tortured and abused in detention.

After years of campaigning, the ban on driving for women in Saudi Arabia has been lifted. But the women who bravely fought for this right are now on trial and branded ‘traitors’. After international outcry, some have been released temporarily.

Email the Saudi embassy demanding that the women who remain in prison are returned home, and all charges dropped.

Free Saudi women who fought for the right to drive

The situation

24 June 2018 was a historic moment for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia - women were granted the right to drive.

They finally had more freedom in their own country. But many of the women who stood up and fought for these freedoms are now behind bars in Saudi Arabia.

Nassima al-Sada, Loujain al-Hathloul, Nouf Abdulaziz, Maya’a al-Zahrani and Samar Badawi are among a group of 13 women’s human rights activists who are on trial in Saudi Arabia.

Torture and abuse in detention

Not only are several of these women detained, but we have heard reports of torture and abuse.

According to the testimonies, a total of ten human rights defenders were tortured, sexually abused, and subjected to other forms of ill-treatment during their first three months of detention, when they were held in an informal detention facility in an unknown location.

In November 2018 we learnt that a number of women had been repeatedly tortured by electric shocks and flogging, leaving some unable to walk or stand properly.

One woman was wrongly told by an interrogator that her family members had died, and was made to believe this for an entire month.

This is absolutely sickening and must be stopped immediately.

The high price of feminism in Saudi Arabia

Following the arrest of these women, Saudi media ran a chilling smear campaign, sharing pictures of the activists with the word ‘traitor’ stamped in red across their faces.

These peaceful women human rights defenders may now face up to 20 years in jail for their work on dismantling the decades-old driving ban.

Email the Saudi Embassy now demanding their immediate and unconditional release.

Saudi Arabia - Perception vs Reality

Some of these women were instrumental in lifting the ban - yet the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has himself claimed credit for it as one of his ‘visionary reformist policies’.

Despite his attempts to brand himself a ‘reformer’, the Crown Prince has shown his promises are meaningless.

In fact, the crackdown on human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia has only got worse since his appointment, with several activists detained, tried and sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their human rights work.

Saudi Arabia wants to be considered a world leader but in reality, they are locking up their own citizens for speaking out - while taking credit for their victories. 

This must stop and these women must be freed.

Email the Saudi Ambassador urging the immediate and unconditional release of these women.