Saudi Arabia announced today that it will now allow women to drive starting in June of next year. According to the New York Times, Saudi leaders hope this decision will improve its image around the world, as well as boost the economy now that women will no longer relyon cab drivers or male family members to get around.
The royal decree was signed by King Salman and read aloud on state-sponsored television. It said that traffic laws will be changed to include women, and the state will now issue drivers licenses to men and women alike. It also said that a committee will be formed to handle additional changes, such as training police officers on how to interact with the new female drivers.
Previously, officials have given a wide variety of explanations for the driving ban. Its been said that driving damages women's ovaries, encourages promiscuity, and will lead to the collapse of the Saudi family. Saudi men have also been blamed in the past, as they reportedly could not be trusted to handle seeing women behind the wheel. The consequences for violating the ban have also been harsh, with women receiving jail time if they are caught driving.
One question that still has not been answered is whether or not women will need permission from a male family member before they can get a drivers license. Saudi Arabia still has so-called guardianship laws on the books that give men significant power to control the lives of their female relatives.Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may be committed to reform, but changing the minds of traditional, conservative families will still take time.
Source: The New York Times
Photo Credit: CNN via YouTube