Saudi Arabia jails man who called for an end to women guardianship

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Riyadh, Dec 27 (AFP) A Saudi man has been jailed for one year for calling for an end to the Muslim kingdom’s guardianship system that gives men wide controls over women, local media said today.

The man, who was also fined 30,000 riyals (USD 8,000) by a court in the eastern city of Dammam, was convicted of “inciting to end guardianship of women” in statements he posted on Twitter and in public posters, the Okaz daily said.

He was arrested while putting up posters in mosques in Al-Hasa district calling for an end to the globally unique system that subjects women in the ultra-conservative kingdom to male control.

During questioning, police found out that the man was also behind a wide online campaign to end the guardianship, the paper said.

The defendant admitted pinning up the posters in several mosques, saying he solely launched an “awareness campaign” after finding that some “female relatives were facing injustice at the hands of their families,” the daily said.

Thousands of Saudis signed in September a petition urging an end to the guardianship system following a Twitter campaign which the court claims was launched by the defendant.

Saudi Arabia has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women, and is the only country where they are not allowed to drive.

Under the guardianship system a male family member, normally the father, husband or brother, must grant permission for a woman’s study, travel and other activities.

Activists say that even female prisoners have to be received by the guardian upon their release, meaning that some have to languish in jail or a shelter beyond their sentences if the man does not want to accept them.

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