Only days since he gave women the right to vote in Saudi Arabia and gave a promising outlook for women’s rights, King Abdullah has also overruled a court who sentenced a Saudi woman to be lashed 10 times for defying the kingdom’s ban on female drivers.
Shaima Jastaina was found guilty of violating the driving ban in the country that bans any female from being given a license. Consequently the court sentenced the woman to 10 lashes, a punishment almost unheard of in the country that usually just stops and questions the female drivers.
There are no written laws that formally restrict women from driving in Saudi Arabia however the ban is rooted in conservative traditions and religious views that stop the freedom of women that could in turn make them vulnerable to sin.
The ban is not only imposed on Saudi women but also foreign women who visit the country. It is the only country in the world to have such a ban that forces families to hire live-in drivers or for those who can not afford the extra expense to rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, the doctor etc.
The sentence came as a shock to the female community as it came just a day after the ruling that gave women the right to vote. King Abdullah however continued to grant more freedom to women by overruling the court and allowing the Saudi woman to go free.