Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women drivers

Women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia

The measure was hailed by the US Department of State, which dubbed it as "an important step in the right direction" for Saudi Arabia.

The news sounds nearly comical for readers in the West, where women have driven since Henry Ford invented the Model T. Not so in Saudi Arabia, where the. The order is effective immediately, although the rollout could take months, said the Saudi Press Agency.

Guardianship is just one of the many human-rights abuses, of women and men, domestic and foreign, that are rampant in Saudi Arabia.

The announcement comes after a years-long resistance from women's rights activists, some of whom were jailed for defying the ban on female driving. "Congratulations to the women of my homeland".

Champions of the women's rights movement have a new reason to celebrate.

Barely a week after a senior Saudi scholar said women in the country should not be allowed to drive because they have "a quarter the brainpower of men", Saudi Arabia's king issued a decree that women will now be able to obtain a driver's licence. It was unclear whether women would require their guardian's permission to apply for driving licences.

The decision was met with jubilation from Saudi women and from around the world. This means less than one-third of the world's lawmakers are women.

Buti said this change will not only help the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but believes the economy will also see a positive change. The king still emphasized that the state is the guardian of Shariah values.


Those arrests were not directly related to the driving ban, but apparently to an ongoing crisis with Gulf rival Qatar, said Jane Kinninmont from London-based Chatham House.

Some hit back at sexist jokes that flooded Saudi Twitter in the wake of the driving ban being lifted, reminding people that Saudi Arabia has one of the world's highest vehicle accidents rates, while only men are driving. Women are also a burgeoning social force.

"I think our leadership understands our society is ready", Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz said. Until now, Saudi Arabia has been the only country in the world that didn't allow women to drive and it has received a lot of criticism for detaining women who broke the law by getting behind the wheel.

According to the clerics, the majority of Council members saw no problem with women driving as long as there were guarantees and laws to maintain the respect and dignity of women, Efe reported. The committee must submit its recommendations within 30 days.

It added that authorities are aiming to have the necessary arrangements in place by June 2018.

Some men expressed outrage at the about-face by prominent clerics, who in the past have sometimes justified the driving ban by saying women's brains are too small or that driving endangered their ovaries.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: For years, the ban on women driving was held up as a sign of repression in Saudi Arabia.

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