Home » Reports » At the 44th session of the HRC, Saudi Arabia claims to empower and protect women while arresting and torturing prominent women’s rights advocates

At the 44th session of the HRC, Saudi Arabia claims to empower and protect women while arresting and torturing prominent women’s rights advocates

لقرائته بالعربية اضغط هنا

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has repeated its claims before the Human Rights Council regarding women’s rights. On 6 July 2020, during a discussion of the report of the Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination Against Women at the 44th session of the HRC in Geneva, the head of the Saudi delegation’s Human Rights Division, Meshaal Bin Ali Al-Balawi, stated that Saudi Arabia has taken several measures aimed at empowering women and promoting their equality with men.

Saudi Arabia said that Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program 2020 have placed the empowerment of Saudi women among its top priorities. The vision aims to provide work opportunities for approximately one million Saudi women by the year 2030 and seeks to encourage them to study various disciplines, especially STEM studies that open up a variety of fields in the job market.

Saudi Arabia touted the recent royal order appointing 13 women to its Human Rights Commission as a new achievement on behalf of women’s rights. It also referred to the issuance of regulations to protect women, including the Anti-Harassment Law and the Law of Protection from Abuse.

ESOHR stresses that the Saudi government uses a clear process of misinformation before the HRC and international agencies, where it promotes what it calls “steps toward reform”despite contradictory practices on the ground. For example, while King Salman has appointed 13 women to the Human Rights Commission, 39 women,including prominent human rights advocates, sit in political prisons as a result of arbitrary arrests, and are subjected to harsh treatment and severe torture.

Furthermore, the laws that the Saudi government promotes as protecting women are not effectively implemented given the ongoing use of the male guardianship system in many spheres. This system may expose women to domestic violence in the absence of effective mechanisms for their protection.

ESOHR emphasizes that any claim of reform lacks credibility unless coupled with the immediate release of women arbitrarily detained and an investigation into their subjection to torture. Moreover, ESOHR warns that the Saudi government’s deception of the HRC and international agencies does not accurately reflect the women’s rights situation in the country.

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