The idea of Saudi Arabia marketing itself as the new face of feminism in the Arab world is, in a word, obscene. In reality, despite some recent changes, Saudi women are still struggling for even the most basic of human rights.
Lawmakers and advocates are calling on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Trump administration to withdraw from the Saudi-hosted “W20” women’s summit.
Led by Rep. Schakowsky, the co-signers of a Congressional letter join a growing global campaign to stand up for women who are facing torture, forced separation from their children, arbitrary detention and more in Saudi Arabia.
The Free Saudi Activists coalition sits down with Lina alHathloul—the younger sister of Loujain alHathloul, who is currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia—to discuss the past two years of advocacy and her thoughts on the events that have transpired. What was shared provides a raw and open look at the toll this fight has taken and why public pressure is crucial as ever.
On HBO, “Mrs. Fletcher” enlists an all-women directing team to tell the story of a woman’s sexual awakening and “Saudi Women’s Driving School’ explores how the right to drive has impacted women’s lives. In theaters, “Netizens” shines a light on digital harassment—and on Netflix, Jenny Slate takes to the stage to tell her story.
“When our family didn’t do anything and we remained silent, nothing changed and things got worse. So now I have no choice but to speak up.”
“I lost everything in one day,” Layla, who fled Saudi Arabia, says a few months later outside a refugee settlement in Germany. Her voice trembles with still-raw fear. “But only one thing mattered: For the first time, I was free.”
It can be hard to see progress in the fight for Saudi women’s rights. But we see the cracks in this systemic oppression more than ever before.
Imagine an app that tracks your movement wherever you go. Imagine that it sends notifications to a male member in your family whenever you check in at an airport. Imagine that it gives them the power, in just a few clicks on their own smartphone, of banning you from traveling altogether. This app is called Absher. You can find it at the Google Marketplace and in the Apple App Store.
Over the last few months, the Saudi Arabian government has imprisoned about 15 prominent feminist activists, most of whom led the fight to end the country’s driving ban. On Wednesday, Reps. Lois Frankel and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen released a formal letter urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to fight for their release.
Saudi women bravely organized to end the kingdom’s driving ban over many years, repeatedly facing arrest—and it is their hard-fought victory that should be celebrated on June 24, when women will finally be able to take the wheel.