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Saudi Activist Sentenced to Prison To Appear on “Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan”

June 20, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A prominent Saudi writer and feminist activist faces a 10-month prison term and two-year travel ban for helping a Canadian woman allegedly being abused by her Saudi husband. She describes her “horrible situation” in an exclusive interview to air Saturday on “Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan.”

Wajeha Al-Huwaider and another Saudi activist, Fawzia Al-Oyouni , were convicted on June 15 in the Al-Khobar District Court of the Islamic Sharia law offense Takhbib (inciting a wife to defy the authority of her husband). The two women were charged with aiding a Canadian mother of three, who allegedly is being abused by her Saudi husband.  Al-Huwaider and Al-Oyouni are hiring a lawyer to appeal the case. 

“What we are hoping is the King (Abdullah), he’s the only one who can get us off of this horrible situation,” Al-Huwaider said during a phone interview Wednesday from her home in Saudi Arabia. Al-Huwaider has been arrested before, more than once, for her human rights efforts, but that this is the first time she’s been convicted. “I can’t sleep,” she said, describing the emotional toll.

The case has attracted international attention. Equality Now has launched a petition appealing to the Saudi government to overturn the prison sentences and travel ban. “That Saudi authorities have punished those seeking to protect human rights, but appear to have done nothing to investigate the violence allegedly perpetrated by the husband is deeply disturbing and a breach of international law,” the petition notes.

On June 7, 2011, Al-Huwaider and Al-Oyouni Al-Huwaider went to the home of the Canadian woman after receiving a request for help. When they arrived with food, a police car pulled up, Al-Huwaider said. “It was a trap and they meant to catch us at that time in order to make a case against us,” Al-Huwaider said.

Al-Huwaider and Al-Oyouni were subsequently released after signing an agreement to end their involvement with the case.  But, more than a year later, they were told that their case would go to court. On Friday, the pair was convicted of the incitement charge, although they were acquitted of trying to help the woman escape.

Al-Huwaider believes she and Al-Oyouni are being targeted because of their longtime work on behalf of women’s rights, in particular toward ending the “guardianship laws” that make Saudi women permanent minors, unable to travel, sign legal documents, go to school, get a job or loan or bank account, or see a doctor without written permission from a male relative—even from a young son if no adult male is available. 

The interview with Al-Huwaider will air on “Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan,” on Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon ET on CBS AM 1580 in the Washington D.C. area, and streamed online from 

“Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan” is a progressive talk program with fresh, original, lively news, guests and commentary for women and for men of conscience. It is designed to educate, stimulate, entertain and make women and girls more visible and powerful in the media. The show, which reaches a national and international audience, is live-streamed and podcast from “Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan” will be on iTunes shortly. Guests have included Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jane Fonda, Lisa Ling, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Lily Tomlin, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Kathy Bates.

Robin Morgan is an award-winning author, feminist leader, political analyst, journalist, former editor of Ms. Magazine and co-founder of The Women’s Media Center.

For more information, contact Cristal Williams Chancellor, media relations manager/senior producer, or 202-587-1636.