Saudi Arabia to lift ban on female drivers
Saudi Arabia is to end its ban on women drivers, after fears a suffragette-style rising could rear up in the acutely conservative state.
The radical decision has been confirmed by government officials and will come into effect by the end of this year.
The action comes as a means to suppress campaigns for greater freedom of women, which has recently seen protesters driving cars through the Islamic state, rebelling against the threat of detention and loss of livelihoods.
The driving ban for women dates back to 1932 when the state was founded, however the government’s law has waned in recent times.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, a government official said: ‘There has been a decision to move on this by the Royal Court because it is recognised that if girls have been in schools since the 1960s, they have a capability to function behind the wheel when they grow up.’
Abdulaziz bin Salamah, the deputy information minister, said the decision was not made without serious debate: ‘There is change on the way. I think the fair view is that one can be against it but one does not have the right to prevent it.’
Critics of the decision believe the move will destroy the state’s modesty laws, as women will need to remove the traditional abaya robe for a clear view whilst driving. One critic stated: ‘Allowing women to drive will only bring sin. The evils it would bring – mixing between the genders, temptations, and tarnishing the reputation of devout Muslim women – outweigh the benefits.’
Fouzia al-Ayouni, the country’s most prominent women’s rights campaigner said: ‘We have broken the barrier of fear. We want the authorities to know that we’re here, that we want to drive, and that many people feel the way we do.’