Women's rights activist in Saudi Arabia

Illustration: Agustina Basile

Illustration: Agustina Basile

Saudi Arabia has detained at least 10 women and seven men on vague national security allegations related to their human rights work, the organisation said on Tuesday. Those detained include Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef, who had campaigned for the right to drive before the decades-long ban was lifted in June.

Amnesty said that according to three testimonies it obtained, some of the activists were repeatedly given electric shocks and flogged, leaving some unable to walk or stand properly. In one instance, an activist was hung from the ceiling. Another testimony said one of the detained women was subjected to sexual harassment by interrogators wearing face masks.

Saudi Arabia has tortured and sexually harassed women’s rights activists detained in prison, a new report alleges. The activists, who have not been named for fear of reprisal, were arrested by Saudi authorities in May in a crackdown ahead of the kingdom’s lifting of the decades-long women’s driving ban.

Prisoners in the kingdom's Dhahban Prison have allegedly been interrogated by masked jailers, with one made to hang for long periods of time from the ceiling, sources told Human Rights Watch. Several showed physical signs of torture, including difficulty walking, uncontrolled shaking of the hands, and red marks and scratches on their faces and necks. The charity said it was unclear whether they were seeking to force the women to sign confessions or merely to punish them for their peaceful advocacy. The women have had little access to lawyers and are yet to be officially charged, however they have been accused of undermining security and aiding enemies of the state.

Illustration: Agustina Basile
Sources: Telegraph - The Guardian