His Excellency the Secretary General of the Arab League,
The below mentioned feminist and human rights organizations have expressed indignation at the announcement of the 9 month jail sentence and the travel bans placed on Saudi activists Fawzeya el Awani and Wageeha el Heweedar. The accusation was that they assisted a Canadian woman who was married to a Saudi man, to escape a situation of domestic violence that included her and her children being withheld food for several days. The activists attempted to intervene and visited the home while the husband was away and had left them without food, and they were arrested by the Damam police. They were accused of attempting to help the wife escape the household and during the trial were said to have been “striving to break households”.
Fawzeya el Aweeny explained “There is a Canadian lady married to a Saudi man who’s mother has been trying to contact me and my colleague via email’ as we are women rights defenders, and she told us how her daughter is being subjected to violence as he is locking her and her children up and deprive them from anything to eat or drink”.
She added; “I referred her case several times to the human rights organization but they did not give her any support. The woman sent us several messages saying that she is hungry and cannot get out of the house. The last message she sent was 3 days ago, she said her husband is traveling for 5 days and she needs help. We decided to go attempting to just take her out and buy food for her children. As we got close to the house, we called her and asked her what kind of support she needs. She said, ‘I need to leave the house’. So Wageeha and I decided we will take her and her children to a restaurant then to a play area at the supermarket and take her back home. As soon as we arrived in front of the house, a man attacked us and started throwing accusations at us. At the beginning we thought he was an officer, he started kicking the door hard until it opened and the women was standing behind the door, fully dressed, with her niqab on and holding her children. She took a step back when she realized that the man who was trying to break the door was actually her husband. The husband grabbed her violently and took her into a car and she kept screaming ‘help me’ but we were stuck and there was nothing to do, so they left”.
El Eweeny added, “We were held for about an hour by an order from security, until a police officer showed up and took us to a police station. There, we found out that the husband accused us of kidnapping and smuggling his wife and the investigations started on that basis. Everyone was sympathizing with us, they said they believe us and we were treated in a respectful manner. They even tried to convince the husband to drop the charges and they will let us sign a pledge saying we will not be in contact with the wife again, but he insisted on referring us to the bureau of investigation and prosecution. We also wanted that, because we wanted to attract the attention of the public towards the issue of this lady. The deal was for us to leave on bail, and to go to the bureau at the afternoon the next day but we were shocked that we were sentenced to imprisonment for 9 month and banned from travel for 2 years.”
The undersigned human rights organizations are demanding that the Saudi authorities drop the charges against the activists Fawzeya and Wageeha and also demand that the necessary protection mechanisms are put into place for women who are subjected to violence inside the family.
The Undersigned Organizations:
El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture – Egypt.
Center for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance (CEWLA)- Egypt.
New Woman Foundation – Egypt.
Women and Memory Forum- Egypt
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)- Egypt.
Foundation for Freedom of Expression and Thoughts- Egypt.
The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights- Egypt.
The Egyptian Association for Social Participation- Egypt.
The CEDAW Coalition- Egypt.
The Egyptian Foundation for Family Development- Egypt.
Girl of Earth Association- Egypt.
Cairo Center for Development and Human Rights- Egypt.
Azza Helal’s Association for Human Rights- Egypt.
The Center for the Appropriate Means of Communication for Development- ACT Egypt- Egypt.
Nazra for Feminist Studies- Egypt.
Alliance for Arab Women- Egypt.
Hya Foundation for Women- Egypt.
The Feminist Center for Research and Studies- Egypt.
Feminist Organizations Union- Egypt.
The Alliance of Feminist Organizations- Egypt.
I Will not be Silenced on Sexual Harassment Initiative- Egypt.
Women’s Studies Centre – Palestine.
Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling- Palestine.
Sunflower Association for Human and Environment Protection- Palestine.
Women Against Violence- Palestine.
Salma’s Network for Combating Violence Against Women (Network including 9 Arab Countries).
Iraqi Women’s Network – Iraq.
The Rafidian Daughter Organization- Iraq.
The Syrian Women League- Syria.
Arab Women’s Association- Jordan.
The Jordanian National Assembly of Women Affairs- Jordan.
Families Development Association- Jordan.
The Humanitarian Forum for Women’s Rights- Jordan.
East West Center for Human Resources Development- Jordan.
The Institute for Women’s Solidarity Association- Jordan.
Jordanian Coalition for the International Criminal Court- Jordan.
Millennium Ladies Assembly- Jordan.
Young Meleeh Association for Development- Jordan.
Effat Center for Guidance and Legal and Social Services- Jordan.
“Tadamon” Network for support of women and girls; victims of human rights violations, which includes in its membership 18 organization and tens of individuals (Amman- Jordan).
Democratic Forum for Women in Transitional Societies- which includes 15 Arab countries.
The Lebanese Council to Resist Violence Against Woman (LECORVAW) – Lebanon
Generations of Social and Cultural Development- Sudan.
AlAlk Center for Social and Health Services- Sudan.
Listen Association for Facing Violence Against Women- Morocco.
The Free Woman Association for Citizenship and Equal Opportunities – Tetouan- Morocco.
The Association of Rescue of Women in Hardship- Algeria.
Legal Foundation for Family Assistance & Human Rights-Egypt
Collective for Research and Training on Development Action-Lebanon
Palestinian Working Woman Society for Development (PWWSD-Palestine.