Confirmed victory

This weekend, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah announced that Saudi women will have the right to vote and run in municipal elections beginning in 2015. While activists cautiously praised the reform, the fact that women are still not allowed to drive makes Saudi Arabia one of the most oppressive places in the world for women.

It just got even worse. Shayma Jastaniah was found guilty of driving and sentenced to ten lashes as punishment. Shayma, who has an international driver’s license, says she was driving a family member to the hospital.

Shayma’s situation - alone at home with a family member who needs medical attention - is far from uncommon. Another Saudi woman, Najalaa al-Harriri, is set to face trial in a month for driving, not out of defiance, but in order to take care of her children and run basic errands. Unable to drive, women are forced to hire drivers - which can be expensive and dangerous - or rely on waiting for male relatives to find the time to drive them around. The ban is not only a daily inconvenience but it has also exposed many women to financial, social and psychological exploitation by their male relatives and drivers.

Activists working to lift the driving ban suspect Shayma’s sentence is a reaction by conservative Saudi judges who feel King Abdullah’s suffrage announcement gives too many rights to women. But the justice system has caved to international pressure before. This summer, Manal al Sharif was arrested for driving as part of a nationwide protest of the ban. After Saudi Women for Driving started a petition and the international community expressed outrage, Manal was released from prison without being charged.

Demand that the charges against Shayma Jastaniah and Najalaa al-Harriri be dropped immediately. No woman should have to face trial and public lashing for driving.

 

Letter to
King Abdullah
Saudi Minister of Justice Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Kareem Al-Eissa
I just signed the following petition addressed to: King Abdullah and Saudi Minister of Justice.
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العنوان: لا تجلدوا المرأة السعودية لقياداتها السيارة!
الهدف: الوزراء، القضاء

منذ بضعة أيام، أعلن العاهل السعودي الملك عبدالله أن المرأة السعودية ستحصل على الحق في التصويت والترشح في الانتخابات البلدية التي ستجري في العام 2015. في حين اعتمد الناشطون الحذر في مديح هذا الإصلاح، فحقيقة أن المرأة السعودية لا تزال ممنوعة من قيادة السيارة يجعل السعودية أحد الأماكن الأكثر قمعاً ضد المرأة في العالم.
واليوم، وقع ما هو أسوأ. وُجدت شيماء جستانية مذنبة بسبب القيادة وحكم عليها بعشر جلدات كعقاب لها. قالت شيماء التي تحمل رخصة قيادة دولية إنها كانت تقل أحد أفراد العائلة إلى المستشفى.
إن وضع شيماء- التي تسكن منزلها وحيدة مع فرد من العائلة يحتاج إلى عناية طبية- عادي جداً. فمرأة سعودية أخرى، تُدعى نجلاء الحريري، ستواجه المحاكمة في شهر من الآن لقيادتها، ليس كتحدٍّ بل للاعتناء بأطفالها والقيام بالمهمات الأساسية. وبسبب عدم قدرتهن على القيادة، يُجبر النساء على تعيين سائق- مما قد يكون مكلفاً وخطيراً- أو الاعتماد على الأقارب الذكور لإيجاد الوقت ليقلوهن. وهذا الحظر لا يشكل مشكلة يومية فحسب، بل عرّض الكثير من النساء إلى استغلال مالي واجتماعي ونفسي من قبل الأقارب والسائقين الذكور.
يشك الناشطون العاملون على رفع حظر القيادة في أن الحكم على شيماء شكل ردة فعل من القضاة السعوديين المتحفظين الذي شعروا أن إعلان الملك عبدالله حول مسألة التصويت أفرط في إعطاء المرأة السعودية حقوقها. وفي هذا الصيف، تم توقيف منال الشريف للقيادة كجزء من اعتراض وطني على الحظر. بعد أن بدأت النساء السعوديات عريضة وبعد أن أعرب المجتمع الدولي عن استياءه، أُطلق سراح منال من دون توجيه اتهامات إليها.
طالبوا بإسقاط التهم ضد شيماء جستانية ونجلاء الحريري فوراً. لا ينبغي أن تواجه المرأة المحاكمة والجلد علناً لقيادتها السيارة.

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Don't Whip Saudi Women for Driving

Days ago, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah announced that Saudi women will have the right to vote and run in municipal elections beginning in 2015. While activists cautiously praised the reform, the fact that women are still not allowed to drive makes Saudi Arabia one of the most oppressive places in the world for women.

Today, it got even worse. Shayma Jastaniah was found guilty of driving and sentenced to ten lashes as punishment. Shayma, who has an international driver’s license, says she was driving a family member to the hospital.

Shayma’s situation - alone at home with a family member who needs medical attention - is far from uncommon. Another Saudi woman, Najalaa al-Harriri, is set to face trial in a month for driving, not out of defiance, but in order to take care of her children and run basic errands. Unable to drive, women are forced to hire drivers - which can be expensive and dangerous - or rely on waiting for male relatives to find the time to drive them around. The ban is not only a daily inconvenience but it has also exposed many women to financial, social and psychological exploitation by their male relatives and drivers.

Activists working to lift the driving ban suspect Shayma’s sentence is a reaction by conservative Saudi judges who feel King Abdullah’s suffrage announcement gives too many rights to women. But the justice system has caved to international pressure before. This summer, Manal al Sharif was arrested for driving as part of a nationwide protest of the ban. After Saudi Women for Driving started a petition and the international community expressed outrage, Manal was released from prison without being charged.

Demand that the charges against Shayma Jastaniah and Najalaa al-Harriri be dropped immediately. No woman should have to face trial and public lashing for driving.




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Sincerely,