Women drive a car for the first time in Saudi Arabia

Sunday, June 24, 2018

 

The ban on women driving a car in Saudi Arabia was lifted night to Sunday. At the same time, central women’s warriors are imprisoned.

– I am so happy! I learned to drive 18 years ago in the United States where I took the driver’s license. I can not believe the day I can drive in my own hometown has come, “said Sarah Alwassia, 35, to the Saudi Arabian newspaper.

Saudi Arabia was until Sunday the only country in the world that forbade women to drive a car. Before Sunday, a Saudi Arabian woman would have been arrested if she sat down behind the wheel. But in September last year, the king of the country issued a decree that removed the ban. The ban was officially lifted at midnight until sunday the 24th of June, at 01.00 Norwegian time.

“Finally, I can visit my family without asking my husband to drive me,” said Wala Abu Negm, 30-year-old, according to NTB, as she sat in the driver’s seat in husband’s Ford and left the streets of Riyadh.

That Saudi Arabian women can for the first time drive a car without having to be transported by a male relative or driver have been greeted with jubilee all over the world. But it also shows the day that a number of key women’s rights activists have been arrested lately.

Several of the women who have been arrested have been key in the fight for women to drive a car and are considered as icons in the Saudi Arabian women’s movement.

In May, at least ten women’s fighters arrested, according to the authorities, to “undermine the security and stability of the kingdom”.

Among the arrested are the central women’s advocates Loujain al-Hathloul (32), Iman al-Nafjan (39) and Aziza al-Yousef (60). Al-Hathloul is known as the young woman who was detained for over 70 days in 2014 after attempting to drive from the United Arab Emirates to Saudi Arabia.

According to The Washington Post, all three women are among the women’s warriors who have not yet been released. The Independent writes that there are in total 17 women’s arrested who have been arrested and eight of them have been released.

Many Saudi Arabian women have taken driver’s licenses abroad and can now travel for the first time in their home country. Most Saudi Arabian women do not have driver’s license, and according to NTB, there have been long queues for taking driving courses that have been opened for women in closed areas in the last three months.

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