Samar Badawi is in prison
Two years ago, Samar Badawi, then 30, signed a petition to allow women to drive here in Saudi. Six months ago that petition was used in court by her father to prove Samar, a divorced mother of one son, was “deviant”, and disobedient, and to justify charges against her of ”filial ingratitude.
When Badawi went to court to complain about her father’s abusive guardianship - there is documented evidence in the courts of his physical abuse, as well as royal orders from the governor of Mecca Province and mayor of Jeddah granting permission for her to live in a shelter for battered women - the local judge instead reprimanded her, threatened to flog her himself and sent her to prison indefinitely.
There was no trial. There was no sentence.
And the only way she can get out of jail is if her father – the man who has abused her in the past – “checks her out”.
“The judge thinks a woman must submit to her father, regardless of how abusive he is,” said Badawi “Conservative judges hate the government’s women’s shelters because they empower women. They call them brothels.”
Badawi did everything right.
She played by the rules.
She used the court system to intervene on her behalf with an abusive guardian.
She trusted that system to protect her.
But it did not.
And it likely will not.
There are too many wrongs against her.
She is a woman in Saudi Arabia. And she thinks she deserves better.
Ahmed over at Saudi Jeans provides more details of the case, which highlights a judicial system which allows judges to “rule according to their own interpretation of the religious text and reject both the system of precedent used in common law and the civil codes used in civil law systems.”
BTW A blog (in Arabic) has been set up to disseminate information on the case, and rally support for Badawi, according to Ahmed. And Twitter and the local forums are helping to spread the news, as well.
"While many people still like to question the power of web and social media to make a difference to our society, this case offers a good evidence that the influence of online tools can be effective. Remember, the story was not picked up by any newspaper in Saudi Arabia so far."
Thanks, Ahmed and others for bringing this story the attention it deserves and needs. Social media and the internet have changed this society forever and for the better. The genie has been let out of the bottle, and there's no going back to the way things used to be - no matter how much judges like the one in this case would like to believe otherwise.