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Saudi Court Sentences Woman to 10 Lashes for Driving

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Saudi Court Sentences Woman to 10 Lashes for Driving

VOA Breaking News
September 27, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Saudi activists say a court in Jeddah has sentenced a Saudi woman to 10 lashes for challenging the conservative Muslim kingdom's ban on women driving.

The sentencing comes just two days after Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah announced that women will have the right to vote and run in local elections starting in 2015.

Amnesty International welcomed the new right to vote but said Tuesday that the king's “much-trumpeted” reforms amount to “very little” if women are still going to face physical punishment for “trying to exercise their right to freedom of movement.”

The rights group says there are reports of two other women facing charges for driving in the kingdom.

There is no written law in Saudi Arabia barring women from driving, only fatwas, or religious edicts, stemming from a strict tradition of Islam called Wahhabism.

Earlier this year, some women in Saudi Arabia drove cars in a defiant response to the kingdom's traditional ban on women behind the wheel. The defiance resulted in numerous arrests.

A representative from the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce said allowing women to drive will likely take “just a few more years.” She preferred that the government place a priority on better public transportation to help people get to their jobs.

The kingdom holds its next local elections on Thursday, but women are not allowed to vote or run in those.

King Abdullah also said that women will be appointed to the Shura Council starting with its next term. The Shura Council is an advisory body which is selected by the monarch and so far has been all male.

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