‘The voice of the silent majority’ — Feminist radio station launches in Saudi Arabia — Информационное Агентство "365 дней"

‘The voice of the silent majority’ — Feminist radio station launches in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Feminist Radio Station

Nsawya FM, or Feminist FM in English, comprises a team of 11 women, who broadcast programmes through a live audio streaming website, Mixlr.

The women broadcast using just a laptop with editing software and a microphone.

Ashtar, one of the presenters, told the BBC: “We started this project to archive this phase for history so that people would know we were real, we did exist.

“The Saudi authorities could ban Twitter at any moment and we would lose the archive of our thoughts.

“Whereas the radio gives us the opportunity to record programmes and broadcast them on other platforms.”

Most of the women who work on the radio station are Saudi nationals, but not all reside in Saudi Arabia.

The BBC reported the time difference made it tough for the radio station workers to communicate.

Nine of the women produce content, while two others present it.

Justin Trudeau

The station’s opening tweet to announce its creation said: “Our goal is to be the voice of the silent majority, to give everyone the opportunity to share their views, ideas, criticism, articles and poems.”

Women in Saudi Arabia were given the right to drive in June, with more than 120,000 applying for driving licenses on the day the ban was lifted, according to senior Ministry of Interior and Traffic Directorate officials.

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But women in the Gulf Kingdom are still restricted by their lack of right to freely marry, work or travel under male guardianship systems, and the Nsawya radio station aims to bring those issues to light.

Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah, two prominent activists for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia were arrested earlier this month, Human Rights Watch reported.

Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said: “The arrests of Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah signal that the Saudi authorities see any peaceful dissent, whether past or present, as a threat to their autocratic rule.

“After recent arbitrary arrests of business people, women’s rights activists and reformist clerics, Saudi Arabia’s allies and partners should question what ‘reform’ really means in a country where the rule of law is disdainfully ignored.”

News of the radio station comes after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would not compromise on human rights following a diplomatic feud between Canada and Saudi Arabia, triggered by tweets from the Canadian Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland.

Chrystia Freeland

The tweets instigated a diplomatic spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada, spearheaded by Canada’s censure of the kingdom’s human rights record.

The feud, which resulted in the suspension of direct Saudi flights to Canada, was exacerbated by Ms Freeland’s criticism of the recent arrests of 11 prominent human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

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