Riyadh: Suffering from stress and guilt, Saudi women choose to stay in prison instead of going back to their homes. In some cases families of prisoners refuse to receive them, prison authorities said.

Khadija Gharibi, women's prison director in Taif, told Gulf News that the day of the release of a women prisoner is a difficult day for the authorities.

"I often face a tough time when a female prisoner completes her term. Most families refuse to receive them, and demand to keep them in prison, or send them to any other society or centre to care for them."

"Sometimes a prisoner has to hear abuses from her family members and this in itself causes mental suffering." For his part, Dr Hussain Al Sharif, General Supervisor of the branch of the National Human Rights Society in Makkah, called for the setting up of shelters for girls who have completed their jail terms and are rejected by their families. Such shelters will secure accommodation and rehabilitation so that they can rely on themselves.

At a meeting which brought together the National Human Rights Society and 15 charity organisations, Al Sharif held the culture of the community responsible for the state of women prisoners. He said they are forced to stay in prisons even after serving their jail terms because their families refuse to receive them.

Mufleh Al Qah'tani, Chairman of Human Rights Society, called for shelters close to prisons for rejected inmates, indicating that the rights body has registered a number of such cases. The reconciliation committee of the society should step up efforts to investigate the problem.

There are no official statistics on the number of Saudi women prisoners.