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Wed 20 Apr 2016 10:24 AM

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Shoura Council members kick-start female driving debate in Saudi Arabia

Female member proposes amendment to traffic law, saying driving is “equal right for men and women”

Shoura Council members kick-start female driving debate in Saudi Arabia
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Two female members of Saudi Arabia’s highest consultative body have restarted the debate over whether to allow women to drive in the conservative kingdom.

The Saudi Gazette newspaper reported that Shoura Council member Haya Al Minai had proposed an amendment to the country’s traffic law that would state driving is an equal right for men and women.

“Women occupying leading positions is no longer considered a cultural taboo. Women’s right to drive was proposed three years ago but the Shoura Council voted against it. However, I expect a different result this time around,” Al Minai said.

Another Shoura Council member, Latifa Al Shaalan, agreed with the proposal, the Saudi Gazette reported.

Women were first elected to the Shoura Council, a 160-member advisory body, in 2013.

While there is no law against women driving in the kingdom, cultural tradition has prevented them from doing so.

Highly publicised campaigns to give women the express legal right to drive have been shut down by authorities as well as the religious police, known as Haia, whose officers have routinely arrested female drivers.