September 28, 2011

Although their King had promised Saudi women the right to vote (in four years time) just a few days ago, women in Saudi Arabia now face being whipped for being so uppity as driving an automobile.

via the LA Times:

A court in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for defying the kingdom’s ban on female drivers, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

News of the decision came just two days after King Abdullah surprised his ultraconservative nation by announcing that women would be given the right to vote, run for local office and serve on the Shura Council, the king's advisory board.

Human rights activists at the time said the reforms did not go far enough to address the plight of women in a country where they cannot work, marry or travel abroad without the permission of a male guardian -- and can't obtain a driver's license.

"The whole system of women’s subordination to men in Saudi Arabia needs to be dismantled," Philip Luther, an Amnesty International regional deputy director, said in a statement. "Belatedly allowing women to vote in council elections is all well and good, but if they are still going to face being flogged for trying to exercise their right to freedom of movement, then the king’s much-trumpeted 'reforms' actually amount to very little.”

The Associated Press identified the woman sentenced Tuesday as Shaima Ghassaniya. Two other women are believed to be facing charges for driving, one in Jidda and one in Khobar, Amnesty said.

Journalist Rima Al-Mukhtar has more.

UPDATE: According to a tweet by Saudi Princess Ameerah the lashing has now been cancelled. A bit of sanity prevailing in an otherwise ludicrous situation. Or perhaps this was the plan all along, as the Saudi's buy themselves a little more time in the face of growing resentment over their draconian policies.


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