The Saudi Arabian government has announced that the country will start allowing women to drive cars. The new law will be in effect starting in June 2018. At the moment, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that does not let women drive a car. The driving ban has become a symbol of oppression in the kingdom.
In the past Saudi women have had to organize drivers to take them to places in everyday life. If caught driving they risked being arrested and were sometimes even punished. Women were not even allowed to have a driving licence.
Countries around the world welcomed the step taken by Saudi king Salman ibn Abd al-Aziz. Many human rights groups have been fighting for women’s rights , including the right to drive, for years.
In the last few years, the Middle Eastern kingdom has been slowly granting women more rights in an attempt to open up to Western society. In 2015 , women, for the first time were allowed to vote and be candidates in local elections. Recently, the government announced that girls would be allowed to do sports and take part in physical education lessons in school.
Still, Saudi Arabian society is deeply conservative. Women still need a man’s permission to do certain things, including marrying or going abroad. Those who oppose the new law say that it would violate the sharia.
Saudi leaders hope that lifting the driving ban will let women take on a more more active role in the country’s booming economy.
- announce = to say something officially, in public
- arrest = to take a person to the police station because they have done something wrong
- attempt = try
- ban = to forbid something
- booming = when the economy increases and businesses are very successful
- deeply = very much
- driving licence = document that says you have the right to drive
- government = the people who rule a country
- grant = give, award
- human rights group = group of people who want everyone to have basic rights, like the right to vote or the right to speak freely
- including = also
- in effect = here: to start being a law
- kingdom = country ruled by a king or queen
- lift = remove
- local election = when you choose a person to have an official job in a city or town
- oppose = to be against something
- oppression = to treat someone or a group of people in a bad way and not let them have the same rights as others
- permission = to be officially allowed to do something
- physical education = sports taught in school as a subject
- sharia = a system of religious laws followed by Muslims
- violate= here: to break the law
- vote = to choose someone for an official position
- welcome = to be glad that something has happened