In Saudi Arabia, a female activist was sentenced to 11 years in prison for posts on social networks about womenʼs rights

Olha Bereziuk

In Saudi Arabia, the activist of the movement for womenʼs rights Manael al-Otaibi was secretly sentenced to 11 years in prison for posts on social networks about womenʼs rights.

The Guardian and BBC write about it.

Al-Otaibi was sentenced on January 9, but it became widely known only now, when Saudi officials confirmed the information in a statement to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The activist, who was also a fitness instructor and artist and often promoted womenʼs empowerment on her social media accounts, was arrested in November 2022.

She was accused of posting social media posts in which she called for fair treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, as well as wearing clothes that did not comply with local laws.

Saudi authorities also accused al-Otaibi of using the hashtag #societyisready to call for the abolition of male guardianship rules.

Officially, the authorities of Suadian Arabia stated that the court found al-Otaibi guilty of "terrorist crimes", in particular, "broadcasting or publishing false rumors for the purpose of committing a terrorist crime."

Her sister Fouz al-Otaibi was also accused of not wearing "decent clothes" but managed to flee Saudi Arabia before being arrested. The activistʼs other sister Maryam a well-known womenʼs rights activist, was arrested several years earlier for protesting the guardianship rules, detained and eventually released in 2017.

Amnesty International and human rights group ALQST called on Saudi authorities to release al-Otaibi and said her imprisonment "directly contradicts the governmentʼs narrative of reform and womenʼs empowerment".