Saudi Arabia Is Heinously Torturing Female Activists. It Must Face Consequences.

It has gradually become clear that one of the most heinous recent cases of torture of political prisoners occurred last year in Saudi Arabia — and may still be ongoing. The victims are women who were arrested for advocating basic civil rights, such as the right to drive. For months following their initial detentions, a number of the women were held in solitary confinement and subjected to beatings, electric shocks, waterboarding and sexual harassment. Senior Saudi officials are alleged to have been directly involved in the abuse. As in the case of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it is essential that they face consequences.

Amnesty International has identified a dozen female activists and several men who were arrested beginning last May and are still being held. None have been officially charged with a crime or put on trial. Last month, Amnesty said it had testimonies that 10 had been tortured during their first three months of detention, when they were held in a secret prison. In addition to physical abuse, Amnesty said two activists were forced to kiss each other while interrogators watched. At least one of the women, Loujain al-Hathloul, was threatened with rape by Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who watched her torture, according to family members.

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