Babies born out of wedlock abandoned on Saudi streets due to fears of punishment, campaigners warn

Babies born out of wedlock are abandoned on the streets in Saudi Arabia as women fear retribution and punishment for having a child outside of marriage, campaigners have warned.

Abortion is illegal in the Middle Eastern country unless a woman’s health is at risk and sexual relations outside of marriage are criminalised – with unmarried women faced with prosecution and even jail if they are found to be pregnant.

Under the kingdom’s restrictive guardianship system, women are legal minors and cannot marry, divorce, travel, get a job, be released from prison or have elective surgery without permission from their male guardians. Women are also forbidden from mixing freely with members of the opposite sex.

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