News & Media

Bacik calls for release of women’s rights activists detained for opposition to Saudi male guardianship system

15 May 2020

Statement by Senator Ivana Bacik
Seanad Group Leader and Spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik has joined others in restating her concern for women’s rights campaigners in Saudi Arabia who have been targeted and imprisoned for their activism.

Senator Bacik said:

 “Saudi Arabia’s so-called male guardianship system, which requires Saudi women to obtain permission from a man to travel abroad, to marry and to make a host of basic life decisions is deeply oppressive and a denial of their civil and human rights.

 “It is now nearly two years since the lifting of a ban which prevented Saudi women from driving. This victory for women’s rights activism also marked the beginning of a campaign by Saudi Arabia which has seen the detention and alleged torture of feminist activists and their families.

“I welcome a petition published last month which was co-signed by twenty-one female MEPs, including some from my own group, the Socialists & Democrats. The petition called on the Saudi government to end the male guardianship system and to immediately drop all charges against women detainees who were imprisoned for legitimate activities and protest.

“I would like to express my solidarity, and that of the Irish Labour Party, with women in Saudi Arabia who are facing repression for standing up for their rights. The international community has a responsibility to maintain pressure on Saudi Arabia’s government to end the male guardianship system and to release all imprisoned women’s rights defenders.”