Senior Saudi clerics support decision to end driving ban

Senior Saudi clerics support decision to end driving ban

Until now, Saudi Arabia has been the only country in the world that didn't allow women to drive and it has received a lot of criticism for detaining women who broke the law by getting behind the wheel.

But after his recent crackdown on dissenters, including prominent clerics with huge followings, experts say the prince may face only a muted opposition.

With more than half the country aged under 25, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the architect of the reforms, is seen as catering to the aspirations of youths. Responses on a global level and among Saudi women have been overwhelmingly positive, at least on western social media channels. Hush money also comes in the form of subsidized jobs, which in turn allow men to afford to restrict the movement of women: About 1.4 million foreigners are now employed as household drivers.

Every woman in Saudi Arabia has a guardian, called "wali". The United States also places a rather unimpressive 45th. The news was met with celebration from Saudi women and supporters, some of whom have been protesting the ban since 1990. Many were arrested and forced to officially declare that they would refrain from driving in the future.

"I'm not jealous of my male colleagues often, but I am when it comes to how they can just shower, shave, put on a suit and be ready to go". Amid weakening oil prices, the country is looking to put more citizens to work, and the inability to drive has sidelined many women from the workforce.

On September 26, King Salman of Saudi Arabia issued an order to allow women to drive cars on public roads in the Kingdom, with new guidelines to be created and implemented on this in the coming year.

But hardliners could still emerge as a potent threat.

Numerous kingdom's professionals and young people have welcomed the change, viewing it as a step to making life in the country a bit more like life elsewhere. Tuesday the Saudi Arabian government announced women can now legally drive.

Women's reproductive rights also need to be promoted around the world, as only 39.5 percent of the world's population lives in countries where there are no reason-based restrictions on abortion, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

It was unclear whether women would require their guardian's permission to apply for driving licences.

"I really hope this is the first step towards an expansion and a continued expansion of rights for women in Saudi Arabia", Stur said.



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