World

Here’s What Saudi Women Still Can’t Do Even After Driving Ban Is Lifted

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Mark Tapscott Executive Editor, Chief of Investigative Group

Saudi Arabian officials announced Tuesday that beginning in the summer of 2018, women will be allowed to drive on public roads, marking the end of the world’s only remaining such ban. Women’s rights in the ultra orthodox Islamic country, however, are still heavily restricted.

Most of the code regulating women’s conduct remains in place. At least one expert on Islamic affairs doubts the relaxed driving rule heralds further liberalization any time soon.

“Saudi women still can’t leave home without permission from a male guardian,” Robert Spencer, editor of Jihad Watch, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “They still are subject to being beaten for their perceived disobedience, with no recourse. They can be divorced at a word.”

“They receive, by Islamic law, a smaller share of the inheritance. Their testimony is worth half that of a man. They must cover their heads when they do venture out or be subject to arrest,” Spencer added.

Human Rights Watch said in a September 2016 report that “until the guardianship system is removed entirely, Saudi Arabia will remain in violation of its human rights obligations and unable to realize its Vision 2030, the country’s ‘vision for the future,’ that declares women—half of the country’s population—to be a ‘great asset’ whose talents will be developed for the good of the country’s society and economy.”

The driving announcement follows a small experiment in liberalization earlier this month, when women were allowed to enter Saudi Arabia’s national stadium in the capital, Riyadh. Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman encouraged the test. The crown prince is King Salman’s son and heir.

Women’s rights group in Saudi Arabia have pushed for the driving reform for two decades, encouraged by the U.S. and international groups like Human Rights Watch. Saudi Arabians are overwhelmingly members of the Wahhabi sect of Islam, which imposes a strict guardianship code that effectively makes women inferior to men.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.