Saudi Council May Soon Allow Women To Drive, Albeit With Some Major Caveats

In a move that has surely surprised the entire world, the Saudi Council, which typically doesn’t like giving women much freedom, has reportedly recommended they be allowed to drive.

A Saudi advisory council has apparently said that it approves of lifting a ban on female drivers. The move is hardly believable since, for many years, the kingdom has flatly refused to even review the ban on female drivers. The council has even gone ahead and warned the hopeful and sometimes adamant women not to protest the driving ban.

The Saudi women, for quite some time, have been itching to get behind the wheel. While thousands risked persecution by signing online protests against the gender-biased driving ban, they have urged other women with international driving license to take to the roads and defy the local police by legally driving cars.

Though Saudi Arabia doesn’t explicitly ban women from driving, it employs an innovative technique to disallow them. The Saudi Kingdom doesn’t allow women to apply for, or possess, a local driving license. This automatically disqualifies them from driving. However, technically they can’t stop or arrest a woman who possesses an international driving license.

Interestingly, though the Saudi Council seems to have relented, they have mandated a lot of rather harsh prerequisites that women must strictly follow, if they want to enjoy this long-fought-for privilege, reported Refinery29. The women who wish to drive must be minimum 30-years-old, and they should have clear permission from their male guardian. As if these weren’t outrageous, the Saudi Council mandates that the women should not wear make-up while they are behind the wheel. The final clincher is that women can drive only during daylight hours.

The council has even outlined the “daylight hours,” reported the National Post. The Shura Council, who has recommended that women be allowed to drive, stipulate that women be allowed to drive until 8 p.m. each day if they have permission from a male guardian. The council stated that women will be allowed on the roads, behind the wheel, from 7 a.m. till 8 p.m. on Saturday through Wednesday. But on Thursday and Friday, the Muslim weekend, women will be allowed to drive only from noon to 8 p.m.

To ensure the modesty of these women drivers is thoroughly protected, the council even recommended setting up “female traffic department” made up of only female officers to deal with female drivers.

[Image Credit | Albawaba]