Bahraini, Saudi women filmed crossing borders after driving ban lifted
Bahraini, Saudi women filmed crossing borders after driving ban lifted
A woman practices infront of a screen during driving lessons
24 June, 2018, 15:59
"The lifting of the ban is testament to the bravery and determination of the women's rights activists who have been campaigning on the issue since the 1990s, and the activists following up their ground-breaking work in subsequent campaigns since 2011", said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International's Middle East Campaigns Director.
But despite this shift, Saudi women are still held up by restrictive guardianship laws where men in their lives must give approval before they get basic things such as renting a house. This move was announced a year ago in September, as part of the Kingdom's effort to remove the country's reputation of repressing women's rights.
Many Saudi women have ebulliently declared plans on social media to drive their mothers for coffee or ice cream as soon as the ban ends on Sunday, a mundane experience elsewhere in the world but a dazzling novelty in the desert kingdom.
A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Khobar City on her way to Kingdom of Bahrain on June 24, 2018.
"I am not a provoker, not a vandaliser, not a terrorist, a criminal or a traitor", Abdelaziz said in a letter before her arrest, which was cited by HRW. The ban had relegated women to the backseat, unable to determine when and how to move around.
The order mentioned that a male guardian wouldn't be required for women to attain a driving license or accompany them while driving.
In preparation for the lifting of the ban, the government preemptively addressed concerns of sexual harassment - with a prison term of up to five years and a maximum penalty of 300,000 riyals ($80,000).
The decision to lift the ban in the tightly-controlled Muslim kingdom - where once-forbidden cinemas and concerts have also returned - is expected to boost the economy, with industries from vehicle sales to insurance to reap returns.
With the promise of greater independence, many women across the conservative kingdom signed up for driving lessons and road safety education classes at universities.
A Saudi government statement released on Saturday said that the activists had been arrested on charges that included "suspicious contact with foreign parties", without naming them.
Even some of the crown prince's ardent supporters have labelled the crackdown a "mistake".
Television presenter Sabika al-Dosari said the end of the ban was "a historic moment for every Saudi woman" before driving a sedan across the border to the kingdom of Bahrain.
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