Saudi Women Deserve the Mic; Digital Freedom is Their Right

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During a crackdown on female activists during May 2018 in Saudi Arabia, the government arrested civil and political rights activist, Nassima al-Sadah, for her digital advocacy directed toward ending violence against women, encouraging women’s political participation, and resisting the ban on women driving. We  condemn this inhumane response designed to stifle Saudi women’s rights to free expression. We call upon the Saudi government and demand the release of Nassima al-Sadah and other Saudi Arabian women’s rights activists from abusive prison conditions, and denounce their attempts to silence dissenters and necessary digital activism required for positive social reform. 

Saudi Arabia’s crackdown came after the the passing of an Anti-Cyber Crime Law in 2007, which punished “production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers” with sentences up to five years in prison. These activities which impinge on public order are up to the interpretation of the Saudi government, and often target dissent and critique. 

Social media and other public platforms, subject to the Anti-Cyber Crime Law, have been harnessed by Saudi women rights activists to push for reform and change. The Journal of International Women’s Studies finds that users between 15 and 29 year old constitute 67% of users in Saudi Arabia… [and] women in the Middle East constitute 30% of the total number of users of social networks.” Many female activists have embraced blogging and social media as a means to empower themselves by sharing and spreading messages, forming networks, and expressing themselves in an otherwise oppressive patriarchal regime.

The fact that Saudi women’s rights activists are being imprisoned and tortured for exercising their right of simply asking the government to grant them basic human rights such as the ability to express their political views and move freely is farcical. Furthermore, it’s absolutely absurd that women in Saudi Arabia have only recently gained the right to drive in 2018. Not to mention how ridiculous it is that they are forced to have a male guardian with them at all times. We condemn the Saudi government’s oppressive treatment of Saudi women’s rights activists and call for their immediate and unconditional release. To keep these innocent and brave women detained in inhumane conditions is a crime against humanity and deserves public attention and outrage. The Saudi government’s decision to keep these women detained shows the world that its misogynistic beliefs are more significant than human lives. If the Saudi government continues to detain these women, this interpretation will be proven true.

Sign this petition to demand the Saudi government to release Al-Sadah and other women's rights activist and to urge the Saudi government to make necessary digital freedom reforms so that Saudi's, especially Saudi women, can freely and effectively express themselves online.