When the Saudi government agreed to let women drive, major car companies publicly and rightly hailed that development. It was a step towards equality for women in the Kingdom and created a lucrative new market for the industry. Now, the courageous women that fought for their right to drive are being arrested, jailed, and harassed. It is a cruel irony that the women who fought for equality are in jail while the companies stand to make millions from the market those women have helped create. They should tell the government to stop going after these activists.
On May 15, just weeks before they lifted the decades-long driving ban on June 24, Saudi authorities launched a large scale coordinated crackdown against the women’s rights movement. They have since arrested at least 13 prominent women’s rights activists and accused several of them of grave crimes which appear to be directly related to their activism. At least nine women continue to be detained without charge, some of whom are awaiting a trial that could have them facing up to 20 years in prison.