Saudi Arabia reacts to Johnny Depp winning defamation case against Amber Heard

Saudi women say the verdict will help men to speak up about domestic violence and mental health

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Saudi women celebrated the verdict of the jury that cleared actor Johnny Depp of allegations by his former wife Amber Heard.

Depp, 58, sued actress Heard for $50 million, claiming she defamed him when she called herself "a public figure representing domestic abuse" in an opinion piece she wrote for The Washington Post.

Heard, 36, counter-sued for $100m, saying Depp smeared her reputation when his lawyer called her accusations "a hoax".

The jury on Wednesday found Depp should be awarded just over $10 million, with $2 million awarded to Heard.

"You have to hear both sides of the story," said Dr Yousra, in Jeddah. "This brings out a lot of topics regarding mental health for men, which are often unheard of."

She said the "Me Too" movement made men apprehensive about calling for help and speaking about abuse.

"Many things can be misconstrued using the context of 'Me Too' and this unfortunately made men afraid of sharing incidents of physical and mental abuse," Dr Yousra said.

"This trial, of course, shows the toxic relationship they both shared, but the bigger picture here highlights domestic abuse men go through in silence, get side-lined or don't have a voice."

"This is a man who has power, fame and money but one woman was able to destroy his reputation just using words. That's the society we live in.

"When we talk about equal rights, what happened today, his victory, is a true representation of it."

From people watching videos in the background at work to family meals being dominated by conversations about domestic abuse, the ins and outs of the case have been a national conversation.

Many people in the kingdom have been closely following the six-week trial and stayed up late to watch the jury's verdict when it was delivered.

"Feels great that finally the truth won," says Yasmin Ahmed, a social worker in Jeddah. "It shows you should never give up, it's extremely inspiring. You should fight for what is right because in the end, truth prevails."

Depp's lawyer Camille Vasquez, 37, from Brown Rudnick, has made a strong impression on young women after footage of her cross-examining Heard went viral.

"It is so inspiring to so many, to others, especially men, now that they can believe their word is worth as much as a woman's and we can't let either gender take it for granted," said Ghalia Azam, a mother living in Jeddah.

"I loved his lawyers Camille and Ben. I think Camille has inspired many young girls to study law after her compelling work during the trial."

The trial has struck a nerve at a time when Saudi Arabia is witnessing social and economic changes as the government works to improve women's rights and offer increasing legal parity between men and women.

Depp wrote on Instagram after the verdict: "And six years later, the jury gave my life back. I am truly humbled."

The verdict came after the jury deliberated for 12 hours and 45 minutes over the course of three days.

Updated: June 02, 2022, 5:48 AM
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