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The Association for the Protection and Defense of Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia is a Saudi NGO founded to provide activism for women's rights. It grew out of a 2007 movement to gain women the right to drive. The Association is not officially licensed by the government of Saudi Arabia, and has been warned not to mount demonstrations.[1]

The Association for the Protection and Defense of Women's Rights was founded by Saudis Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia Al-Uyyouni.[2] In a 2007 interview, Al-Huwaider described its goals:[2]

The association will consist of a number of leagues, with each league pursuing a different issue or right... representation for women in shari'a courts; setting a [minimum] age for girls' marriages; allowing women to take care of their own affairs in government agencies and allowing them to enter government buildings; protecting women from domestic violence, such as physical or verbal violence, or keeping her from studies, work, or marriage, or forcing her to divorce…

We need laws to protect women from these aggressions and violations of their rights as human beings. And there is also [the need to] prevent girls' circumcision…We truly have a great need for a Ministry of Women's Affairs to deal with women's rights, issues of motherhood and infancy, and women's health in rural areas… This is our ultimate goal…

The association's first campaign gathered signatures to petition King Abdullah to allow women to drive:[3]

In the Name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, may God preserve him

May Peace and the Mercy and Blessings of God be upon You

On the occasion of the advent of the Hijri (Islamic) and Christian (Western) new years, we are sending our best and warmest greetings and blessings to your noble throne and to every Saudi citizen, in the hope that the coming year will be a year rich in security, peace, and prosperity everywhere in the world by virtue of the efforts of people of good will like yourselves throughout the world.

To the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques

We are honored to convey to you the feelings of happiness and high hopes that possess us in the auspicious era of your rule, directing the steering wheel of reform and development in our country, as we are experiencing firm steps on the path to comprehensive development, increasing the hope and expectation of even greater achievements.

Therefore we send this letter, greeting and congratulating you and following up on the letter that we sent to your noble throne on our National Day, 11 Ramadan (corresponding to 23 September) of this past year, signed by 1,100 women and men, requesting that women be allowed to drive cars, granting them the exercise of the right of free movement, a right that their mothers and grandmothers had, without restriction or being subject to prosecution.

Therefore, we faithful citizens of our beloved nation and subjects of its noble leadership anticipate that 2008 will be the year in which the Saudi woman gains her natural right to drive her car for herself, sparing herself and her children from having to travel in cars driven by foreign drivers or in taxis.

May God preserve you and guide Your Steps, and May Peace and the Mercy and Blessings of God be upon You.

Saudi Arabia, December 30, 2007

The petition was ignored.

In 2008, the association launched a "No to the Oppression of Women" campaign. The campaign recorded Saudi women speaking "before the camera about the oppression or violence to which she has been subjected, with complete assurance of confidentiality" and put the recordings on youtube. The association described its campaign as giving victims a voice:[4]

...most of the oppression and force suffered by women in Saudi Arabia suffer are the direct result the total power that men have over adult women's lives and the lives of their children. These stories are repeated daily, and women are silent about their suffering.

The cases will, provisionally, be broadcast on YouTube. Each victim will describe her situation, and how the official agencies ignored her plight despite her strenuous attempts to contact them with appeals for assistance.

Each woman will have the opportunity describe her psychological and physical pain and suffering, and the inhumane circumstances to which she was subjected, which she experienced on a daily basis, as well as the requested resolution.



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