RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA: The women rights and human rights activists based from and outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are boycotting the motorsports event Dakar Rally in protest of the imprisonment of women rights activists in the country.
Dakar Rally is an annual motorsport event, dates back to 1979 and is open to both amateur and professional drivers who race across the terrain.
This year, the event will take place in “the deep and mysterious deserts of the Middle East" as announced by the event makers and it will also see 12 women racers participating.
Advocates of women’s rights, notably Lucy Rae and Lina al-Hathloul, called out the irony.
The country chose to host a motorsport event, while so many activists who fought for Saudi women’s right to drive remain behind bars, notably Loujain al-Hathloul.
Loujain al-Hathloul fought for women's right to drive and travel abroad without male guardianship or Wilayah.
She and dozens of women who rallied for women's right to drive were detained and tortured by the Saudi authorities in 2018.
As per reports, she was sexually abused by prison officials and brutally tortured with electric shocks.
Saudi women's rights groups called for her released and proper human rights reforms in the kingdom instead of "sports washing."
A lot of proto-feminist reformations took place since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took to power.
Women were granted the right to vote, right to drive, and travel abroad without a male guardian.
Women can also fight for their right to divorce their husbands.
However, even today, culturally, feminism is seen at par with "blasphemy" and women's emancipation is not culturally acceptable due to the "weaker sex" narrative by Saudi men.
Several Saudi women have escaped from the country and took asylum in the United States and Canada due to the conservative nature of the country.