Eman al-Nafjan

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Eman al-Nafjan
Alma materUniversity of Birmingham
Occupationwriter, educator

Eman al-Nafjan is a Saudi Arabian blogger[1] and women's rights activist.[2] She was detained by Saudi authorities in May 2018 along with Loujain al-Hathloul and five other women's rights activists in what Human Rights Watch interpreted as an attempt to frighten her and the other activists.[3]

In late March 2019, the women presented their defence and described physical and sexual abuse they had endured in captivity. Eman al-Nafjan, together with Aziza al-Yousef and Dr Rokaya Mohareb were released on bail.[4]

Childhood and education[edit]

Al-nafjan was born in Saudi Arabia, the daughter of a Saudi military officer. She earned a bachelor's degree in English and worked as a school teacher and later a university teaching assistant. She earned a master's degree in Teaching English as a foreign language from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. She then taught pre-med English at a university. Currently she is working towards a PhD in linguistics.[5]

Blogging and activism[edit]

In February 2008, al-Nafjan began blogging as 'Saudiwoman', writing about Saudi social and cultural issues with a focus on women.[6]

On 17 June 2011, she drove a car in Riyadh as part of a women's driving campaign during the 2011 Saudi Arabian protests.[2] She began publishing articles in Western media about the campaign to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia.[7] In September 2016, al-Nafjan signed a petition as part of the campaign against the Saudi male guardianship system.[3] In October 2013, al-Nafjan was arrested while filming a woman driving.[8]

Around 15–18 May 2018, she was detained by Saudi authorities, along with Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef, Aisha al-Mana, Madeha al-Ajroush and two men involved in women's rights campaigning.[9][10][11] Human Rights Watch interpreted the purpose of the arrests as frightening "anyone expressing skepticism about the crown prince's rights agenda".[3] Saudi authorities accused the arrested activists of having "suspicious contact with foreign parties", providing financial support to "hostile elements abroad" and recruiting government workers.[12]

As of November, 2018, she is apparently being held in the Dhahban Central Prison.[13] According to Amnesty International, the detained women's rights activists including al-Nafjan are subjected to torture and abuse.[14][15]


  1. ^ Davies, Catriona (14 April 2011). "Ten must-read blogs from the Middle East". CNN. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  2. ^ a b Burke, Jason (17 June 2011). "Saudi Arabia women test driving ban". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 19 June 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Saudi Arabia: Women's Rights Advocates Arrested — Jumping Ahead of Crown Prince's Reforms Risks Jail Time". Human Rights Watch. 18 May 2018. Archived from the original on 19 May 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  4. ^ Michaelson, Ruth (28 March 2019). "Saudi Arabia bails three women on trial for human rights activism". the Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  5. ^ Eman Al Nafjan, Cyberdissidents.org
  6. ^ "These Saudi Women Have Been Imprisoned For Their Activism". Time. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Eman Al Nafjan". the Guardian. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Saudi Women's Rights Activist Eman al-Nafjan Arrested Ahead of Driving Ban Being Lifted - Fanack.com". Fanack.com. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  9. ^ Female activists detained ahead of Saudi driving ban reversal, 20th May, The National
  10. ^ Saudi Arabia arrests female activists weeks before lifting of driving ban, By Sarah El Sirgany and Hilary Clarke, May 21, 2018, CNN
  11. ^ "Saudi Arabia 'arrests women's rights activists'". Al Jazeera English. 19 May 2018. Archived from the original on 19 May 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  12. ^ "Saudis detain women's advocates ahead of driving ban lift". ArabianBusiness.com. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  13. ^ "Saudi Arabia: Reports of torture and sexual harassment of detained activists". www.amnesty.org. Amnesty International. Archived from the original on 12 January 2019. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  14. ^ Lawler, Opheli Garcia. "Saudi Arabia Accused of Torturing Jailed Women's-Rights Activists". The Cut. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  15. ^ "Amnesty says Saudi activists beaten, tortured in detention". The Seattle Times. 20 November 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.

External links[edit]