Sentence, not license, revoked in Saudi Arabia
In a positive turn of events for women’s rights, a Saudi Arabian woman’s sentence for driving was revoked this week. King Abdullah made the decision not to give the woman her original punishment of 10 lashes.
The outcome is the first of its kind, and came just two days following Abdullah’s announcement that women will be able to vote for the first time in the country’s next elections in 2015.
News of the outcome initiallyÂ spread thanksÂ to the tweetsÂ of Princess Amira al-Taweel, the wife of Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who wrote “Thanks to our beloved king. I’m sure all Saudi women will be so happy, I know I am.”
Shaima Ghassaniya was initially handed the sentence for driving without first being granted the government’s permission. Though no specific law bans women from driving, it is widely considered forbidden. Saudi Arabia is the only country that essentially bans women from driving, and although women are now granted the right to vote, they still are subject to other restrictions, such as needing a male guardian’s permission to travel or work abroad.
Women’s rights organizations have applauded Saudi King Abdullah’s actions, which reflect past changes he has made in favor of women. For example, the king opened the first co-educational university in 2009. He also promised that he will work to provide more jobs for women, which aligns with his plan to reduce the country’s economic dependence on oil.