Saudi Arabia called on to respect women's rights

Oct. 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM
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BRUSSELS, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- A human rights consortium has called on Saudi Arabia to ease pressure on two women's rights activists sentenced to jail for defying laws on patriarchs.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders sent an open letter to the Saudi government expressing concern over the 10-month prison sentences imposed on rights leaders Wajiha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Uyuni.

The two women were said to be aiding a Canadian woman who claimed her Saudi husband was abusing her by locking her in her home for five days without food while he was away. The husband accused the rights activists of trying to kidnap his wife and a court later sentenced the activists on charges of inciting a wife to deny a man's authority, an offense under Islamic law.

The Observatory said Thursday it was calling on authorities to overturn the sentences, "which only serves to prevent them from carrying out their legitimate and peaceful women's rights work."

In February, Saudi King Abdullah swore in 30 women to serve on Shura Council for the first time in the country's history. Women councilmembers have a special seating area and designated entrances and exits to comply with a no-touch policy with male counterparts.

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