Pictured: Saudi activists Samar Badawi (L) and Nassima al-Sadah (R)

This week, authorities in Saudi Arabia arrested several women's rights activists including Samar Badawi, the sister of Raif Badawi - the imprisoned Saudi writer, activist, and blogger.

Samar Badawi is best known for her fight against Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system and is considered to be one of the "first women to petition Saudi authorities to allow women to drive, vote and run in municipal elections," according to Human Rights Watch.

The human rights defender has been arrested on multiple occasions in the past. Authorities also imposed a travel ban on Badawi in 2014.

Badawi: "A recipient of the 2012 International Women of Courage Award"

Badawi is not the only activist to be detained this week

Nassima al-Sadah, who is also known for her fight against guardianship laws in the country, was also arrested in the ongoing crackdown. 

Al-Sadah was a candidate during the kingdom's 2015 elections before authorities barred her from running.

"The arrests of Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah signal that the Saudi authorities see any peaceful dissent, whether past or present, as a threat to their autocratic rule," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. 

"After the recent arbitrary arrests of business-people, women's rights activists, and reformist clerics, Saudi Arabia's allies and partners should question what 'reform' really means in a country where the rule of law is disdainfully ignored."

"Badawi is a bigger threat than her brother ... because she is a woman"

"The latest victims of an unprecedented government crackdown on the women's rights movement"

In May, Saudi Arabia arrested a number of people for "actions against the state" and "suspicious communication with foreign entities".

The arrests included activists - women and men - who were prominent campaigners against the kingdom's long-standing ban on women driving. The timing of the arrests came just weeks before the ban was officially lifted.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been promoting a rapid modernization effort in Saudi Arabia through his Vision 2030 National Transformation Plan. 

His reforms - which included lifting the driving ban for women - aim to create more opportunities for Saudis, diversify the economy, increase entertainment options, and ease the kingdom's conservative laws.

The story of Raif Badawi

In 2012, Raif Badawi - Samar Badawi's brother - was arrested on a number of charges, including insulting Islam and apostasy. 

Subsequently, the blogger was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in 2013 but was then re-sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison one year later.

Since then, an ongoing campaign - led by his wife and human rights activist Ensaf Haidar - has fought to #FreeRaif. Haidar and the couple's three kids are currently living in exile in Canada.

In 2017, she urged the newly appointed crown prince Mohammed bin Salman to release her husband from prison. A number of people on Twitter are standing in solidarity with Badawi in hopes to finally make #FreeRaif a reality.

Over the years, Badawi's story has won numerous human rights awards time and again, including the Prix Voltaire Award "for showing exemplary courage in upholding freedom of speech".

In 2017, Badawi was awarded the Sakharov Prize for human rights by the European Parliament.