UN Human Rights Council Urges Saudi Arabia to Give Women Rights

At a meeting late last week, members of the United Nations Human Rights Council urged Saudi Arabia to actively work to end pervasive human rights violations in the country, particularly those against women and children. According to Reuters, Britain, Switzerland, Canada, and Israel spoke against Saudi Arabia’s current practices. Israel’s delegation reportedly accused Saudi Arabia of “severe discrimination against women and minorities, corporal punishment, torture, forced labor, and the sexual exploitation of children.” Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are currently limited on a number of fronts including marriage rights, freedom to travel, property ownership, education, and work. According to Human Rights Watch, although some human rights laws have been introduced in Saudi Arabia, little implementation or enforcement of these laws has occurred. Prior to the UN Human Rights Council review, Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson, said that “The international community should ensure that its review of Saudi Arabia does not just produce more promises, leaving the Saudi people empty-handed….The Saudi reply to inquiries about rights violations or legal developments is typically total silence.”


Reuters 2/6/09; AFP 2/5/09, Human Rights Watch Press Release 2/4/09

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