When 32-year-old divorcee Samar Al Badawi went to Jeddah court to challenge a “filial ingratitude” complaint filed by her father, the judge rejected her claims and ruled in favor of her father. And despite documented physical abuse, previous court rulings to lift her father’s guardianship, and even a royal order to send her to an abused women’s shelter from governor of Mecca Prince Khalid al-Faisal, the judge sent her to prison. This was a year ago, and Al Bawadi has not been released or seen her son since.
“The judge thinks a woman must submit to her father, regardless of how abusive he is, conservative judges hate the government’s women’s shelters because they empower women. They call them brothels.”
Waleed Abu Alkhair, Badawi’s lawyer, says:
“Keeping her in prison violates Saudi law. She is in prison without trial, let alone sentence, and is stuck indefinitely because only her father as guardian can check her out.”
Naturally, bloggers have gathered around Samar. She has a blog dedicated to her freedom, as well as a Twitter hashtag, a Facebook page, and a CrowdVoice campaign as well. Saudis are standing up for Al Badawi in every possible way, putting “Free Samar” designs on their webpages.
Sabq newspaper has published the details of the report that was prepared as per the Prince of Mecca’s orders to a special committee, which recommended that she be moved to a shelter for her safety. This was based on the fact that her father physically abused her. Not to mention that her dad used the fact that she co-signed a petition to give the women the right to drive 2 years ago as a sign of her “disobedience.”
According to Global Voices, this case has caused controversy on social media websites and blogs. While some stood by Al Badawi’s side, supporting her cause and re-tweeting blog entries calling to free her, others questioned the documents and whether they are official or not. As if this was the real issue here! The fact that an adult woman is held in prison with no trial or conviction is acceptable? What kind of “official papers” does anyone need to realize that this is a clear case of violation for her human rights? Blogger Haphazard thinks this specific trail to divert the buzz around the papers is nothing but an attempt to take the public eye away from her case and question the credibility of those supporting Al Badawi.
SaudiWomen.com, a website concerned with all Saudi Women matters, commented on the issue that as long as the law allows the “Guardian” position, such incidents will always keep on happening:
“The “Guardian “ Saudi law contradicts with all the universal human rights, including the “CEDAW,” ratified by Saudi Arabia itself, and promotes blatant discrimination against women. The time has come to amend that unjust law that stands against the Saudi women adult legal rights and restoring their dignity.”
What is special about this case is that Saudis, men and women, are gathering around it: a Prince has spoken up and made an order in favor of a woman who doesn’t follow her father, and bloggers from inside Saudi Arabia are objecting on the fact that judges should not have such liberty to rule whatever they want, even if against all evidences and laws.
Al Badawi is a Saudi woman who thought she could dare to think she has rights. The right to drive, to vote, to have a safe home, to be respected and kept safe. She petitioned the court for those rights, and was denied them.
I salute Samar Al Badawi for her courage. History has been changed by women like her, and I pray that we are witnessing this very phenomenon.