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Saudisk tvångsskild kvinna hungerstrejkar


Fatima Starts Hunger Strike Despite HRC?s Reunion Assurances
Ebtihal Mubarak, Arab News
JEDDAH, 25 March 2008 ? A Saudi woman, who was forcibly divorced from her husband by a court in 2005 at the request of her half brothers, yesterday began the first day of a hunger strike despite officials saying that the couple would soon be reunited.

?I won?t believe it till I see it… I?ll remain stuck in this shelter like an outcaste. Everyone asks me to be patient and wait,? said the woman known as Fatima.

?Three years have passed now. I?m human at the end of the day and there is a limit to what I can put up with,? she told Arab News in a phone conversation, adding that no one understands what she was going through.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the government-run Human Rights Commission (HRC) gave assurances that the couple would be reunited. ?The couple will soon be reunited,? said Zuhair Al-Harithy, HRC spokesman, without giving a timeframe.

?Fatima and Mansour?s case is a HRC priority and gets the special attention of HRC President Turki Al-Sudairi,? he said, adding that Al-Sudairi has been in conversation about the issue with high-ranking government officials.

Al-Harithy did not clarify whether the case reached the Supreme Judicial Council, the Kingdom?s highest judicial authority, for a second review. The only legal way to end the couple?s misery is for Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to intervene by asking the Supreme Judicial Council to again look at the case.

?We coordinate with all official establishments concerned with the case. However, we don?t interfere with judicial rulings. We do express our point of view to the Cabinet, which is responsible for the work we do,? said Al-Harithy.

He added that they are now sure that the divorce was given due to social reasons and not for religious reasons. ?We?re not only working on solving the case. We want to make sure things like this don?t happen again,? he added.

The couple?s ordeal started when Fatima?s half-brothers asked a court to annul the marriage citing her husband?s low tribal background. The judge agreed, even though the couple had been married for over two years and had two children.

Following the ruling, the couple was arrested in Jeddah after coming there to seek official help. Fatima and her children spent nine months in a women?s prison in Dammam after refusing to go back to her family.

In January 2007, Riyadh?s Appeals Court upheld a judge?s decision to divorce the couple, and Fatima was moved to a women?s shelter in the city, where she has been living ever since with her two -year-old son, Suliman. Her other child, four-year-old Noha, lives with her husband, Mansour Al-Timani.

Al-Timani has been living close to the HRC office in Riyadh for the past several months to keep a check on the case. He told Arab News that he was overwhelmed with frustration and that his wife was determined to keep fighting. ?I still consider her my wife and I?m sure that justice will prevail,? said Al-Timani.


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