With the school’s recent focus on global awareness, we would like to share Shalma’s story to bring light to the lack of freedom of expression that many people are living under, and hopefully inspire more pupils to become involved and interested in helping those who are experiencing the same kind of repression.
Last year, Shalma al-Shehab, a 34 year old Saudi citizen was arrested for sharing and following woman’s rights related content on Twitter. Shalma was living in the UK, where she attended Leeds university and lived with her two children. She was judged by the Specialized Criminal Court after spending 285 days in jail, waiting for her sentence. Initially, she had been sentenced to 6 years in prison, but the court then sentenced her to 34 years, based on the discretion of the judge for “supporting those who seek to disrupt public order, destabilise security and the stability of the state”, according to the Amnesty International official website (18 aug, 2022).
This is an example of a woman who peacefully spoke out against the lack of freedom she and others had in her country and received an outrageous sentence. At RHS we live in a free environment where we can express our opinions openly. Pupils have a voice and can participate in part of the decisions in how our school is run, and probably do not realise what it is to live in a country where you are oppressed and can not fight for your basic rights. This is why we encourage pupils and members of staff to read and share this story, so we can finally fight for free speech in the whole world and people like Shalma are able to speak and express their personal views.