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Group DescriptionWomen activists in Saudi Arabia re-launched a vigorous internet campaign protesting against the ban on women driving calling on women with international driver’s licences to take to the roads from 17 June 2011 onwards. Scores of women supported the campaign and got behind the wheel, many of whom filmed themselves driving and posted it on Youtube. Some were arrested as a result and were made to sign pledges to desist with at least one woman tried and sentenced to ten lashes. The campaign has led to renewed scrutiny of the issue but so far has failed to force an overturn of the ban.
The ban on driving is only one example of the many areas of life where women in Saudi Arabia have their human rights and their agency denied. It is also a more divisive issue in the country as the government has a much weaker argument for it. A support action for women would help to show Saudi Arabian women that the world is supporting their work and to let the government know the support out there for such change. It is believed that a targeted push might help to push the authorities to overturn the ban. Women’s rights activists also see this as symbolic if they are to achieve this it could pave the way for changes to the many other areas of discrimination that they face and which will take a lot longer to tackle.
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