Women

Saudi Arabia may lift partial ban on women drivers with certain conditions

November 09, 2014 07:02 AM
Saudi woman driving car

 Conditions: only women over 30 would be allowed to drive and they would need permission from a male relative.

RIYADH: It's only for women over 30, who must be off the road by 8pm and cannot wear makeup behind the wheel. But it's still a startling shift. The Saudi king's advisory council has recommended that the government lift its ban on female drivers, a member of the council said on Friday. 

The conditions also require that a woman driver wear conservative dress and no make-up, the official said. Within cities, they can drive without a male relative in the car, but outside of cities, a male is required to be present. 



The Shura Council's recommendations are not obligatory on the government, but simply making the recommendation was a major step after years of the kingdom staunchly rejecting any review of the ban. There have been small but increasingly bold protests by women who took to their cars over the past year. The council member said the Shura Council made the recommendations in a secret, closed session held in the past month. 

They would be allowed to drive from 7am to 8pm on Saturday through Wednesday and noon to 8pm on Thursday and Friday. It wasn't immediately clear why the restrictions would be different. The conditions also require that a woman driver wear conservative dress and no make-up, the official said. Within cities, they can drive without a male relative in the car, but outside of cities, a male is required to be present. 

The council said a 'female traffic department' would have to be created to deal with female drivers. It recommended the female traffic officers be under the supervision of the "religious agencies." 

The council placed heavy restrictions on interactions between female drivers and male traffic officers or other male drivers, and stiff penalties for those who broke them. Merely speaking to a female driver, it said, was punishable by a one-month jail and a fine. 

 

 

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