A Saudi woman who filed harassment claims in Saudi Arabia without being accompanied by a male relative has been sentenced to 300 lashes and 18 months in jail, Human Rights Watch said.
Sawsan Salim lodged a series of complaints in 2007 at government offices and in court in the northern region of Qasim in which she alleged harassment by local officials, the New York-based rights group said. She was sentenced in January on charges of making “spurious complaints” against government officials and appearing “without a male guardian,” the group said in an e-mailed statement received today.
“In Saudi Arabia, being a woman going about her legitimate business without a man’s protection is apparently a crime,” Nadya Khalife, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement. “The government needs to free Sawsan Salim and keep its promise to end this discriminatory system.”
Bandar bin Mohammed al-Aiban, president of the government- run Saudi Human Rights Commission, couldn’t be reached immediately for comment.
Saudi Arabia, which maintains a code of Islamic morals, said in June at a meeting of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council that it would end the male-guardianship rule, said Human Rights Watch.
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