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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Weird news - Saudi lady sentenced to 10 lashes for driving

Sometimes we take our independence for granted. The ability to drive wherever we want, live the way we want, and so on. This is particularly true for woman's rights, where many countries had to go through long struggles to establish rights.
Even in the modern western democracies, where the spirit of freedom is taken for granted, rights for women such as the right to drive, and most important, the right to vote were won only in the last century, and too after long struggles. So it seems strange when you hear that in some societies, women are still deprived of the right to drive because of cultural and religious reasons.
But to expect that a woman can be expected to be lashed because she had the guts to drive is something that is totally unexpected, and yet that is the scene in the conservative Islamic society of Saudi Arabia where a religious police governs everything (link to article):

A Saudi woman has been sentenced to be lashed 10 times with a whip for defying the kingdom's prohibition on female drivers, the first time a legal punishment has been handed down for a violation of the longtime ban in the ultraconservative Muslim nation.
The driver, Shaima Jastaina, in her 30s, was found guilty of driving without permission, activist Samar Badawi said. The punishment is usually carried out within a month. It was not possible to reach Jastaina, but Badawi, in touch with Jastaina's family, said she appealed the verdict.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women _ both Saudi and foreign _ from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.
In the end, the king over-turned the judgment, but it also showed how far backward the country actually is and the sorry state of women's rights.

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