With the news that Saudi Arabia is finally easing restrictions on women driving, the thought “about time” immediately sprung to mind.
The Gulf Kingdom is the only country in the world that doesn’t allow women to drive and those who dared get behind the wheel – and few did – risked being arrested and fined.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry tweeted on Tuesday that a royal decree had been issued that will allow women to drive in the country.
A committee has been formed to implement the ruling and it will present its recommendations within 30 days. The government then have until June 24 next year to implement the new decree signed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
The move was seen as a “big step in the right direction” for the ultra conservative country which has seen a series of reforms, such as religious police curbed and women’s sport encouraged over the past two years under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s 2030 vision.
But the fact that this is being billed as a victory highlights how oppressive the regime is. There are still human rights violations which continue to plague the Kingdom.
Women are subject to a “male guardian” who must give approval to basic decisions across a number of different fields including education, employment, marriage and travel plans.
Women must limit physical closeness with men and be segregated from them in offices and universities. They are bound to wear long robes and head scarves.
Sadly, the country also needs to ban flogging, stoning, torture and public beheading and until all these problems are sorted then it still has a long way to go.