More than 40 Bahraini women were arrested and beaten by security forces for protesting against parliamentary by-elections, the main Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq said in a statement Monday.
"More than 40 Bahraini women were savagely arrested... in a commercial centre where they were beaten," it said.
"Seven minors aged between 12 and 15 were among them," the statement said, quoting their lawyers, adding that they were "beaten and humiliated."
Al-Wefaq called for the immediate release of the women, said they had only been expressing their "right to freedom of expression," and called their treatment "savage and inhumane."
The group said clerics from the Shiite-majority kingdom ruled by a Sunni dynasty staged a protest sit-in on Monday in a Shiite suburb of the capital Manama.
The women were arrested on Friday a day before the by-elections boycotted by the opposition to replace 18 Shiite MPs who quit the parliament in protest over the violence used against demonstrators in February.
A second round of voting in the by-elections will be held on Saturday in nine constituencies, the authorities announced on Sunday.