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(New York) – A flogging sentence against a Saudi Arabian woman who defied the ban on driving by women demonstrates the cruel scale of gender discrimination in the Kingdom, Amnesty International said today.
"Flogging is a cruel punishment in all circumstances," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s deputy director, Middle East and North Africa. "Belatedly allowing women to vote in council elections is all well and good, but if they are still going to face being flogged for trying to exercise their right to freedom of movement then the King’s much-trumpeted 'reforms' actually amount to very little," said Luther.
On Sunday, King Abdullah announced women would be given the right to vote and run in local elections starting in 2015 – a move Amnesty International said was too small a step toward women’s equality in a country where women can’t work, can’t drive, can’t travel, can’t go to school and can’t marry, without a male guardian’s consent.
"The whole system of women’s subordination to men in Saudi Arabia needs to be dismantled," said Luther.
The flogging sentence – for 10 lashes – was passed by a court in Jeddah today. Two other women are believed to be facing charges for driving, one in Jeddah and one in al-Khobar.
Earlier this year an online campaign called on women who hold international driving licenses to start driving on Saudi Arabian roads.
The "Women2Drive" campaign used social media to encourage women to drive as part of their normal daily activities rather than converge in one place.
Corporal punishment, particularly flogging, is routinely imposed as a sentence by courts in Saudi Arabia.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom and dignity are denied.
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