Campaigners have criticised the decision to leave a jailed women’s rights activist and ‘friend’ of the Duchess of Sussex off her ‘trailblazers’ list for Vogue Magazine.
Human Rights Watch said it was a ‘shame’ if Loujain al-Hathloul had been omitted for ‘political reasons’ because her captors, Saudi Arabia, are an ally of the UK.
As a member of the royal family Meghan is not allowed to say anything that is too political.
But nearly three years ago she and Ms al-Hathloul, 29, appeared in a Vanity Fair photoshoot together as they were honoured for their humanitarian work at the One Young World summit in Canada.
Meghan, pictured left with baby Archie, has been questioned as to why she didn’t include friend and women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, right, in her ‘trailblazers’ list for Vogue
Ms al-Hathloul, pictured, was thrown in jail in Saudi Arabia in May 2018 for ‘promoting women’s rights’ in the desert kingdom and has allegedly been ‘tortured’ into ‘confessing to conspiring with the country’s enemies’
The Duchess, who had met Prince Harry just three months earlier, praised delegates for ‘speaking out against human rights violations, environmental crises, gender equality issues, discrimination and injustice. They are the change’.
The Ottawa conference also included actress Emma Watson, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and Cher.
But since they met at the event in October 2016 the lives of the two women have followed very different paths.
While Meghan has gone on to marry and have her first child with Prince Harry, Ms al-Hathloul was thrown behind bars in Saudi Arabia in May 2018 for promoting women’s rights in the desert kingdom – particularly women’s right to drive and an end to the country’s restrictive male guardianship system
Since then it has been alleged that she is ‘regularly beaten, whipped and tortured in a “palace of terror”‘.
Human Rights Watch said it hoped Ms al-Hathloul was not left out for ‘political’ reasons because Saudi Arabia are an ally of the UK
Her brother, Walid al-Hathloul said that on a visit to the prison where she was being held, Ms al-Hathloul told him she was being tortured with electric shocks and sexually harassed.
She now faces 20 years in jail after allegedly confessing to conspiring with enemies of Saudi Arabia.
The Duchess of Sussex is the guest editor of September’s British Vogue and has brought together her 15 most inspirational women for a string front cover.
These included climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg, actress Jameela Jamil and the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden.
But Adam Coogle, of Human Rights Watch said: ‘Any list of trailblazing women, or women who have pushed boundaries, courageously advocated for increasing freedoms at considerable risk to themselves and their own safety and wellbeing, should consider all of the women Saudi activists given all that they’ve faced, and all that has happened to them.
‘Loujain would be probably the most well known of them and what makes it even more sad is that Meghan knows her, too.
‘If certain people are being left off Meghan’s list for political reasons it does call into question the integrity and purpose of such a list. You can recognise trailblazing women but only if they happen to align with UK foreign policy.
The Duchess of Sussex is the guest editor of British Vogue’s September issue and is pictured here with editor Edward Enninful picking the line-up of women she ‘admires’
The list includes teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg, actress Jameela Jamil and the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden. Pictured is the front cover
‘I would certainly say that Loujain deserves recognition as a trailblazing woman and a woman of courage. I’m not sure that many women on the list will have experienced what Loujain has in terms of mistreatment.’
MailOnline have contacted Vogue for comment.
Also being held with Ms al-Hathloul is Samar Badawi, who was once given an International Woman of Courage Award at the White House by former First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Saudi Arabia later cut off diplomatic relations with Canada after its foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, called for Badawi’s release.