Friday 24 November 2017

Saudi woman sentenced to lashes for driving openly

Asma Alsharif in Jeddah

A Saudi court has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for challenging a ban on women driving.

Amnesty International revealed the sentence last night.

The sentence was reported two days after Saudi King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and run in municipal elections.

"Flogging is a cruel punishment in all circumstances but it beggars belief that the authorities have imposed lashes on a woman for merely driving a car," Philip Luther, an Amnesty regional deputy director, said in an emailed statement.

Two other women are also believed to be facing charges related to driving, the Amnesty statement said.

Under Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic laws, women require a male guardian's permission to work, travel abroad or even undergo some surgeries. They are not allowed to drive.

While there is no law banning women from driving, Saudi law requires citizens to use locally issued licences. Such licences are not issued to women.

In May, as pro-democracy protests swept across the region, women in Saudi Arabia called for their right to drive. A campaign called Women2Drive issued calls on social media such as Twitter and Facebook to challenge the ban.

Some women posted on Twitter that they drove successfully.

On May 22, Manal Alsharif, who posted a YouTube video of her driving in the streets of Khobar, was arrested. She was released but her case proved to be a deterrent for many women.

Irish Independent

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