Female Human Rights Activists Tortured, Sexually Harassed In Saudi Arabia

A woman takes part in a candle light vigil to remember journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate on October 25, 2018 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Chris McGrath / Getty Images

In statements issued on Tuesday, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say that female human rights activists in Saudi Arabia were tortured. They have been electrocuted, flogged, interrogated, and sexually harassed, the BBC reports.

Several women’s rights activists were arrested in Saudi Arabia this year and held in the Dhahban Prison. After being electrocuted and whipped, these women could not walk or even stand properly. At least three women were also sexually harassed and forced to submit to hugging and kissing, according to the statement from Human Rights Watch.

A number of clerics and intellectuals in Saudi Arabia have also been imprisoned, the statements say.

This behavior, and news reports about murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, shows a pattern in Saudi Arabia of forcibly detaining and torturing those who speak out.

The same day these two statements were released, Donald Trump issued a statement of his own about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi-born journalist who was living in the US and working at the Washington Post when he was reportedly tortured and murdered by Saudi agents in Istanbul.

The CIA now believes that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered Khashoggi’s murder.

The official White House statement says “Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

“In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!”

President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office at the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
  Kevin Dietsch-Pool / Getty Images

Laden with exclamation points, the statement opens and closes with Trump’s slogan “America First!”

In July, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman transferred the domestic intelligence agency and counter-terrorism duties from the Interior Ministry and made them part of the new Presidency of State Security, which reports to the royal court.

According to Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia has imprisoned “dozens of human rights defenders and activists.”

Human Rights Watch unequivocally states that Saudi Arabia has committed “numerous violations” of international humanitarian law. They say that Saudi Arabia launched a coordinated “crackdown on dissent” beginning in September that led to the arrests of human rights activists.

Seemingly, this “crackdown” also led to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and the torturing of women who were advocating for rights.

In the official White House statement, Donald Trump touted the deal he made with Saudi Arabia on a diplomatic mission to the country, a deal that includes a multi-billion dollar arms sale to the country.