Not The Arabian Nights
Loujain al-Hathloul is a Saudi Women’s Rights activist, a Social Media figure, and a former Political Prisoner. She has always been at the forefront of the Protest Movement to protect the Women’s Rights in her country. She has been arrested time and again for taking part in anti-Government Protests, and has also been subjected to brutal mental and physical torture in jails. Still, Loujain continues to fight for the Rights of Women.
Loujain, born on July 31, 1989 in Jeddah, is a graduate of the University of British Columbia. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 and 2020, and also for the Bucklav Havel Human Rights Award in 2020. The name of the winner of the Bucklav Havel Human Rights Award 2020 will be announced on April 16, 2021. It is because of Loujain the Saudi women got the Right to Drive cars and came out of Male Guardianship!
In spite of being so popular and prominent social worker, Loujain has been subject to brutal torture in a Saudi prison! She had been, initially, sentenced to almost six years in prison in December 2020 under a broad Counterterrorism Law. However, she was released on February 10, after serving nearly three years on charges that have sparked a Global Uproar over the Kingdom’s Human Rights record.
After getting released, Loujain claimed that she was brutally tortured in prison by the Jail Custodian, and other guards who were there. She further claimed that she was not only threatened with rape, but also forced into a physical relationship with the jailer, and had to watch pornography with the prison guards. Apart from sexual assault, Loujain was also subjected to electric shocks, waterboarding and flogging in prison…
Loujain was first arrested on December 1, 2014 for driving a car from the UAE to Saudi Arabia in protest against the ban on Women’s Driving. Despite having a license, she had to spend 73 days in prison. In September 2016, the activist, along with 14,000 others, signed a petition to King Salman, asking for the Male Guardianship System to be abolished. She was arrested yet again, although the reason for the arrest was not officially disclosed. Amnesty International stated that the Saudi Authorities did so for her Human Rights activism, as Loujain was not even allowed access to a lawyer or any contact with her family members.
The Social Media figure was kidnapped from the UAE, and arrested forcibly in 2018. Later, she was taken to Saudi Arabia! She had been in jail ever since. However, all these could not stop her from criticising the Saudi Authorities. It is because of Loujain, Saudi King Salman issued a Decree, allowing women to drive, for the first time, on June 24, 2018. At that time, Loujain was behind bars.
Loujain was not allowed to meet her family members during her imprisonment. The Saudi Authorities also detained other female social workers for driving cars. However, they were allowed to meet their near and dear ones. Knowing this, Loujain went on a hunger strike in jail. After six days, she, too, was allowed to meet her family.
Soon after Loujain was released after spending 1001 days in jail, US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and other world leaders congratulated Saudi Arabia’s most prominent political activist. At the same time, the US President cautioned that she was still far from Freedom…
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