It has been almost a year and a half now since Saudi women's rights activist Loujan al-Hathloul and other activists for women’s rights have been languishing in prison, enduring horrific conditions—beatings, waterboarding, electroshock, sexual assault. Last week, Saudi Arabia finally made Loujan an offer to be released, but it required her to video a statement denying reports she was tortured in custody. She tore up the contract! What incredible courage!
Loujan and the other imprisoned Saudi women have an unlikely ally in Congress: Senator Marco Rubio. Along with Senator Ben Cardin, Rubio has introduced a bi-partisan resolution condemning the detention of Saudi women’s rights activists and demanding their immediate release. Send a message to your Senators asking them to add their names to S.Res.73.
Rubio and Cardin’s S.Res.73:
- calls on Saudi Arabia to immediately release and drop all politically motivated charges against the detained Saudi women’s rights activists;
- condemns Saudi Arabia’s use of torture against the women’s activists and calls for the perpetrators to be held accountable;
- urges Saudi Arabia to stop violating basic human rights, including by abolishing the male guardianship system;
- calls on Trump to pressure Saudi Arabia to immediately release all political prisoners, human rights defenders, journalists, and bloggers;
- demands accountabilty for the grotesque murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
On August 1, Saudi Arabia announced—and we applauded—that they would be abolishing parts of their male guardianship system, finally granting women the right to obtain passports and travel (if 21 years of age or over), report births and deaths, and obtain family identification cards without the need for male authorization. But they said nothing about releasing Loujan and the other imprisoned women’s rights activists. Plus, Saudi Arabia still requires women to gain of a male relative in order to marry or divorce, forces women to fully cover themselves in public, has no minimum age for marriage, and imprisons and tortures women and others who advocate for basic rights.
Saudi women have a long way to go to achieve equality and that begins with being safe from torture and able to openly advocate for their rights. Tell your senators to take action now.