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Executive Summary for August 3rd

In this week’s wrap of gender equality news: Saudi Arabia arrests more women in human rights crackdown, Indian activists oppose discriminatory marriage reform and British M.P.s recommend more robust pay gap reporting.

Published on Aug. 3, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Two More Women’s Rights Activists Arrested in Saudi Crackdown

Saudi Arabia has arrested another two women’s rights activists as part of its crackdown on those who challenge the government. Human Rights Watch reports that Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah were detained earlier this week. Both had advocated for the driving ban on women in the kingdom to be lifted, which it was on June 24.

The United Nations has expressed concern about the “apparently arbitrary” nature of the arrests, and condemned the lack of transparency around the charges laid against those who have been detained.

More than 15 activists have been arrested since May, many of them campaigners for women’s rights and the end to the country’s guardianship system. Some have been released, though they could face re-arrest.

British M.P.s Encourage Wider Gender Pay Gap Reporting

The United Kingdom should force small companies to reveal their gender pay gaps, a committee of British M.P.s has recommended. Under current legislation, only companies that employ more than 250 people are required to disclose their figures. But the Business Committee pointed out in its report that those companies account for less than half of British workers.

It also recommended that organizations should be expected to publish an explanation for their pay gap alongside the annual figures, as well as an action plan detailing how they intend to close it.

In April this year, companies with more than 250 employees were compelled for the first time to publish figures on the extent of their gender pay gap – 78 percent were revealed to pay men more than women. The largest gaps were in construction, finance and education. Some 238 businesses with fewer than 250 employees disclosed their pay gaps voluntarily.

Indigenous Women Oppose Marriage Reform in Indian State

Women in the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya are banding together to oppose a change to marriage laws that will discourage unions between people of different Indigenous tribes, Reuters reports. The activists of the Khasi tribe say the change will make it even harder for women to own and inherit land.

The bill, which passed the Khasi governing body in July, is awaiting approval from the state governor, Ganga Prasad. It asserts that women who marry outside the Khasi tribe will lose their status as tribal members and their customary rights. Khasi culture is matrilineal – meaning daughters inherit land from their mothers. Activists say the new law will prevent women who marry non-Khasi men from passing on their property.

Khasi journalist and activist Patricia Mukhim has described the law as “sexist and unconstitutional.”

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