Advisers to Saudi King: Let Women Drive

Council's transport committee to mull proposal
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2013 2:03 AM CDT
Advisers to Saudi King: Let Women Drive
Saudi women board a taxi in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, May 24, 2011.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

This year, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah appointed 30 women to the advisory Shoura Council—the closest thing the country has to a parliament, Reuters notes. Now, women on the council are urging the king finally to allow women to drive. When a member of the panel, Latifa al-Shaalan, called for a proposed change to the rules, "Nobody raised their voice or opposed it. I think people were expecting it," says a fellow member. "I believe she received many notes of support afterward from other members."

Al-Shaalan's proposal will now be considered by the council's Transport Committee, which could send it on to the Transport Ministry in a few weeks, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, activists are calling for a new demonstration for women drivers on Oct. 26, though the government has shuttered the relevant website, the Atlantic notes in an explanation of the ban. It's tied to Wahhabism, a type of Sunni Islam that calls for the sexes to be segregated and for women to wear veils. Under the watch of male guardians, "the ideal of feminine piety is associated with home, the need for protection, and subsequent seclusion,” says an expert. "Driving symbolizes the opposite: freedom in the public sphere." An official also recently warned that driving could "affect the ovaries." (More Saudi Arabia stories.)

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