Ten Lashes for Driving? Saudi Women Endure Injustices Despite Gaining Right to Vote

Despite gaining the right to vote and run in 2015 elections on Sunday, Saudi women are still denied the right to drive.  The rule is not officially mandated by law, but banned by conservative religious orders.  And while political participation and personal transportation may seem miles apart in importance, the reality surrounding the driving issue is astoundingly grim. 

Yesterday, Ms. Magazine reported that Saudi King Abdullah's declaration to end the de-facto ban on women's suffrage "overshadowed disturbing developments that have not made the news at all." Shedding light on the driving problem, Ms. Magazine chronicled the disturbing arrests of women who dared take the wheel.  Injustices include the driving-related arrest of  a woman who seems to have been forced to await trial due to her televised outspokenness on the issue , a woman detained for driving herself to the hospital while she endured severe bleeding, and a woman who did not want to hire a lawyer, fearing retribution. 

Today, however, the policy to punish female drivers seems to have been escalated.  Shaima Ghassaniya, a Saudi woman, will receive ten lashes for driving without government permission. 

According totheAssociated Press:

Najalaa Harriri, who is also facing court for driving, told The Associated Press she needed to drive to take better care of her children.

 Tuesday's verdict is the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia. Other women were detained for several days, but had not been sentenced by a court.

The BBC says Ghassaniya has already filed an appeal, but the horrors described by Ms. Magazine suggest her discomfort may begin in detainment. 

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at September 27, 2011, 1:07pm

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