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It's a Big Day for Saudi Women

The driving ban is finally lifted
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 23, 2018 5:10 PM CDT
In this June 22, 2018 photo, a woman tests a car driving simulator with her son at a road safety event for female drivers launched at the Riyadh Park Mall in Saudi Arabia.   (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
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(Newser) – Saudi women are in the driver's seat for the first time in their country and steering their way through busy city streets just minutes after the world's last remaining ban on women driving was lifted on Sunday, the AP reports. It's a euphoric and historic moment for women who have had to rely on their husbands, fathers, brothers, and drivers to run basic errands, get to work, visit friends, or even drop kids off at school. The ban had relegated women to the backseat, unable to determine when and how to move around. But after midnight Sunday, Saudi women finally joined women around the world in being able to get behind the wheel of a car and simply drive.

For nearly three decades, Saudi women and the men who support them have been calling for women to have the right to drive. The few women who tried to drive in past years faced arrest for defying the ban as women in other Muslim countries drove freely. Ultraconservatives had long warned that allowing women to drive would lead to sin and expose women to harassment. Criticism has since been muted after King Salman announced last year that women would be allowed to drive. Many now say they support the decision and see it as long overdue—including men. "I see that this decision will make women equal to men and this will show us that women are capable of doing anything a man can do," says Fawaz al-Harbi. "I am very supportive."

(Read more Saudi Arabia stories.)

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