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Saudi Woman Sentenced to 10 Lashes for Defying Driving Ban

"We refuse to marginalize the role of women..."

Saudi women now have the right to vote and run for public office, but religious edicts are still holding them back from driving. Taking the nation's ban on female drivers to new levels, a kingdom court has sentenced a Saudi woman with 10 lashes for driving despite known restrictions.

According to Samar Badawi, the woman, Shaima Ghassaniya, was found guilty of driving without the Saudi government's permission. It's interesting to note that edicts are religious proclamations and that the driving ban, though reiterated by officials, is not officially written into Saudi law. The Associated Press writes more about the situation women face in the Middle Eastern nation:

In Saudi Arabia, no woman can travel, work, marry, get divorced, gain admittance to a public hospital or live independently without permission from a "mahram," or male guardian. Men can beat women who don't obey them and fathers or brothers have the right to prevent their female relatives from getting married if they don't approve of her suitor.

"Right now, women are harassed and they get dragged to courts and nothing has changed in this respect," said Aboul Khair, who himself has been referred to court after challenging the social restrictions women face as well as other issues. His trial has yet to start.

The ruling, which comes just days after King Abdullah announced that Saudi women will gain the right to vote and run as candidates in local elections, seems to be counterintuitive. After all, it was days ago that Abdullah said, "We refuse to marginalize the role of women in Saudi society and in every aspect, within the rules of Sharia."

Ghassaniya's punishment adds some more curiosities to the discussion about women's rights in the kingdom, considering that this is the first time such a decision has been issued. While women have been detained in the past, sentencing of this sort is a new development, leading one to wonder if this situation will only intensify.

In May, The Blaze brought you the story of Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi woman who launched a campaign against the kingdom's driving ban. Al-Sharif posted a video of herself driving on both Facebook and YouTube to encourage others to join her in opposing the ban.

(h/t Fox News)

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