A Saudia Arabian man has been jailed for campaigning against the nation’s repressive state control over women, according to local media.
The man was imprisoned for a year by the Saudi courts for publicly suggesting that the current legal system of “guardianship” should end.
The regime demands that every woman has a male legal guardian, and needs his permission to travel, marry and take certain kinds of jobs.
According to the Okaz daily newspaper, the man was arrested while putting up posters against the guardianship system.
A court also heard that he was responsible for a widely-reported petition against the regime.
He was condemned to jail by a court in Dammam in eastern Saudi Arabia, which also fined him 30,000 riyals (around $8,000) for the offence of “inciting to end guardianship of women”.
His arrest and subsequent imprisonment was originally reported by the Okaz newspaper, then cited by the foreign desk of Britain’s Daily Telegraph.
Saudi Arabia is famously oppressive towards women, and in some areas is even harsher than Iran.
Famously, the kingdom prohibits all women from driving, and only recently afforded them the first opportunity to vote.
But the guardianship regime, while being short of a ban, means women’s lives are subject to the whims of whoever happens to be in charge of them – which for some women can be their brothers or even their sons.
According to Human Rights Watch:
The impact [guardianship] policies have on a woman’s ability to pursue a career or make life decisions varies, but is largely dependent on the good will of her male guardian.
In some cases, men use the authority that the male guardianship system grants them to extort female dependents. Guardians have conditioned their consent for women to work or to travel on her paying him large sums of money.
The system has been relaxed slightly in recent years, but, for the time being, is there to stay.