Women rights activist jailed for 11 years in Saudi Arabia, for wearing shorts in Gym

A terrifying incident has come forward from Saudi Arabia. A fitness trainer woman was committed to 11 years in prison. The woman is Manahel Al-Otaibi, a 29-year-old female fitness trainer and women’s rights activist. Otaibi has been accused of making a video wearing inappropriate clothes. Otaibi was arrested about one and a half years ago. Now human rights groups have demanded the release of the woman from the Saudi government.

Manahel al-Otaibi, a 29-year-old fitness trainer and women’s rights activist was found guilty on January 9, 2024, in a secret trial by Saudi Arabia’s Special Criminal Court. Amnesty International and ALQST reported the verdict. However, Saudi authorities delayed imprisoning al-Otaibi until UN Special Rapporteurs requested information on the case.

Amnesty and ALQST claim Manahel’s charges relate only to her dress and expressing her views online, Saudi Arabia’s mission in Geneva said in a letter in January in response to a UN request. In particular, it includes joining people on social media to end Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system, going to shops without wearing an abaya, and posting videos of themselves wearing indecent clothes.

Samahu said Manohel’s sister Fauzia al-Otaibi faces similar charges, but she managed to flee Saudi Arabia after being called for questioning in 2022. The groups say Saudi Arabian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release Manahel, as the decision to imprison her directly contradicts officials’ narrative of reform and women’s empowerment.

These groups have claimed that al-Otaibi was subjected to physical and psychological abuse in Riyadh’s Malaj prison following his arrest. In April he told his family that he was being held in solitary confinement, where he suffered a broken leg.

In its letter to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the kingdom’s mission in Geneva said no person in Saudi Arabia is detained for exercising their rights and freedoms and that state institutions have a legal obligation to ensure this. Everyone is treated fairly regardless of religion, race, gender, or nationality.

Sweta Dagar is an avid reader and writer. She hails from Bulandshahr (U.P) where she completed her formap education. She loves exploring varieties of topics that shape the public opinion at large. If you have any queries, feel free to contact her at [email protected].