U.N. voices concern over Saudi arrest of women's rights activists

U.N. voices concern over Saudi arrest of women's rights activists

Opening up job opportunities to women without university qualifications (very much welcomed by families on lower incomes) and identifying ways to provide good vocational training to the youth of the country (70% plus of the population is under the age of 35) are initiatives to be welcomed, and are created to both bring the kingdom into the 21st century and broaden its very narrow economic base.

Al-Bajadi spent several years in prison as a result of his advocacy.

King Salman ordered the Ministry of Interior to prepare the anti-harassment bill in light of the negative impact of harassment on the individual, family and society.

"It fills a large legislative vacuum, and it is a deterrent", al-Shaalan reportedly added.

Rawan Al-Jabri, 26, a Saudi national, said: "This is not a privilege as much as a basic right for all women". Even if a victim waives the right to prosecute a harasser, the kingdom's legal authorities can still press charges.

In September 2017, a royal decree announced the end of the decades-long ban on women driving, which will be effective from June 24.

The law also punishes any person who helps or allows the harassment by not more than half of the maximum penalty assigned to it.

Anyone who witnessed an instance of harassment should be required by law to report it, she said.

Riyadh also granted women the right to attend public events, such as concerts and sporting competitions, alongside men previous year.

They are also at risk of being eclipsed by the recent arrests of 11 rights activists, many of them identified as veteran campaigners for women's rights to drive.

Among those still detained are Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Mohammed al-Rabea, and Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh.

But the social reforms appear overshadowed by the recent arrests of at least 10 activists, mostly women, fighting for the right to drive and a change in the male guardianship system.

The UN official urged the Saudi Arabian authorities to reveal the locations of the detainees, and ensure their rights to due process guarantees.

"This group was targeted mainly because they advocate for human rights, and some of them advocated for Saudi women's rights, the same rights that the people in power are claiming to be giving to women gradually", the organization Prisoners of Conscience previously told Newsweek following the arrests.

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