Saudi Arabia issues driving licences to women

Saudi Arabia begins issuing driving licenses to women

Saudi Arabia on Monday issued the first driving licences to women, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

"The General Directorate of Traffic started replacing the approved global licences with Saudi licences in preparation for the date of allowing women's driving on 24 June, 2018", the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Licensed female drivers will be allowed on the roads of Saudi Arabia on June 24, ending the world's only ban on women behind the wheel.

The first 10 women took a brief driving test before receiving a license, as they'd already held licenses to drive in other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Lebanon.

"Thousands of congratulations to the daughters of the homeland, being issued the first license in Saudi Arabia", the translated tweet says.

They took a brief driving exam and eye test before being issued with the licences at the traffic department in the capital, Riyadh.

"It's a dream come true that I am about to drive in the kingdom", Rema Jawdat, one of the women to receive a licence, was quoted as saying by the CIC.

During the past few weeks, Saudi authorities have arrested seven women and four men who were outspoken women's rights defenders in the peninsular country, many of whom had campaigned against the long-standing ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia.

Others were detained over the years during various efforts by women's rights activists to drive.

This development follows reports indicating Saudi Arabia arrested 17 activists for allegedly protesting the Kingdom's restrictive driving laws.

Ultra-conservatives viewed women driving as immoral and warned they would be subject to sexual harassment if they drove.

The move comes a few days after, Amnesty International called on the "international community and allies of Saudi Arabia" to exert pressure on Riyadh to immediately and unconditionally release women's rights defenders now detained in the Arab kingdom. "If, as it appears, their detention is related exclusively to their work as human rights defenders and activists on women's issues, they should be released immediately", she said.

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