Saudi women face web of barriers even as driving ban lifts


In a historic decree, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced easing of restriction on women driving.

The committee has 30 days to provide its recommendations, the decree said, so that the new policy can be carried out starting on June 24.

Neither Islamic law nor Saudi traffic law explicitly prohibited women from driving, but they were not issued licenses and were detained if they attempted to drive.

According to state media SPA the kings declaration stipulated that the move must "apply and adhere to the necessary Sharia standards". "I think it's the right decision at the right time". The scholars see no reason not to allow women to drive as long as there are legal and regulatory guarantees to avoid the pretexts (that those against women driving had in mind), even if they are unlikely to happen.

Saudi activist Wajeha al-Huwaider said the decision was "a victory for all the women in the world".

The king weighed the negative and positive points of the ban on women driving, the official Saudi Press Agency wrote, while also making sure that any new law was in compliance with Islamic law.

But Sam in Whitechapel insisted that men are treated more harshly in Britain than women are in Saudi Arabia.

"We will continue to support Saudi Arabia in its efforts to strengthen Saudi society and the economy through reforms like this", the White House said.

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The kingdom's dress code requires women to wear an abaya (cloak) and veil, though the latter is selectively enforced.

In 1990, some 47 women took to the streets in 15 cars to defy the ban - they were all arrested and severely punished.

Saudi women were allowed to vote and run as candidates in the municipal elections for the first time in 2015.

"We're just happy today", she added.

Nauert is calling it "a great step in the right direction for that country".

There's a lot of work that still needs to be done in order to achieve gender equality in Saudi Arabia. The shock announcement, which risks riling religious conservatives, is part of Saudi Arabia's ambitious reform push aimed at adapting to a post-oil era and improving a global reputation battered by its human rights record.

But Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Saudi ambassador to Washington, said this will no longer be the case.

"Significant results have been achieved in the area of investment cooperation in the framework of a joint $ 10 billion platform created by sovereign funds of RDIF and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF)".