Saudi Arabia jails man for a year after he publically called for end of male control over women

Man said he launched campaign after finding some 'female relatives were facing injustice at the hands of their families'

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The Independent Online

A Saudi man has been jailed for a year after he called for an end to the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom's male guardianship system.

The unnamed man was also fined 30,000 riyals (£6,500) after being convicted of "inciting to end guardianship of women", the daily Okaz newspaper reported.

He was arrested while putting up posters inside mosques which called for the government to abolish strict rules giving men control over women.

The man admitted to pinning up posters in several mosques and said he solely launched an "awareness campaign" after finding some "female relatives were facing injustice at the hands of their families," the daily newspaper said, according to the AFP news agency.

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Saudi law states that all women must have a male guardian, typically a husband, father or brother, who gives them permission to study, travel abroad or marry.

Human Rights Watch report on male guardianship, published in July, found "a woman's life is controlled by a man from birth until death" in Saudi Arabia, as their ability to pursue a career or make life decisions is restricted. 

Despite limited reforms in 2009 and 2013 to reduce male control over women, which included no longer requiring permission for women to work and making domestic abuse illegal, the report found the system remains largely in place.

The report led to a social media campaign, with women across Saudi Arabia calling for an end to the guardianship system.

Others took to Twitter, using the hashtag #TogetherToEndMaleGuardianship and an Arabic translation, to show their support and demand social reform.

The court claimed the defendant had launched the Twitter campaign.

In September, more than 14,500 women signed a petition calling for an end to the system and leading women's rights campaigner Aziza al-Yousef delivered the petition to the royal court.

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