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Wednesday, 27 September, 2000, 00:48 GMT 01:48 UK
Amnesty raps Saudis over women's rights
woman wearing veil
Saudi women face many restrictions including the dress code
By Caroline Hawley in Cairo

The London-based human rights group, Amnesty International, has criticised Saudi Arabia's treatment of women, particularly foreign domestic workers who, it says, face double discrimination.

In the latest of three recent reports into alleged abuses in the kingdom the group says the situation of women is "untenable" by any legal or moral standard.

Amnesty International is currently on a major campaign against alleged human rights violations in Saudi Arabia.

Previous reports have criticised the country's strict punishments, including the death penalty and flogging, as well as its criminal justice system.

The latest report focuses specifically on women and what it calls systematic discrimination against them, including limitations on their movements.

Domestic workers

Amnesty says it is particularly concerned about foreign domestic workers, most of them Asian, who it says are often locked inside the homes of their employers, making them vulnerable to assault.

But Amnesty also points to some positive developments. It says the situation of women is now the subject of public debate in Saudi Arabia, and quotes a recent magazine article about domestic violence.

The group also welcomed Saudi Arabia's recent signature of a UN convention on eliminating discrimination against women.

The Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister, Prince Turki bin Mohammed, told the BBC that that demonstrated the government's commitment to womens' rights. But he said all countries in the world have beliefs and traditions that must be respected.

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See also:

17 Mar 00 | Middle East
Amnesty demands Saudi probe
28 Mar 00 | Middle East
Saudi Arabia 'buys silence' on abuse
28 Mar 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Saudi rough justice
31 Mar 00 | Middle East
Saudi Arabia denies rights abuses
04 Oct 99 | Middle East
Saudi women taste public life
26 Jun 00 | Middle East
Battle of the sexualities
21 Sep 98 | Middle East
Saudi women get down to business
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