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Saudi Arabia announces it will let women drive

A woman gets into a taxi at a mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. King Salman issued a decree Tuesday that allows women to be given driver's licenses. (2014 file photo/Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabian state-run media announced Tuesday that the country will lift a ban on women driving, according to The New York Times.

Ending the ban on women drivers

The BBC reported that state media said the country’s King Salman issued a decree Tuesday allowing women to be given driver's licenses.

"The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licenses for men and women alike," the Saudi Press Agency said.

According to Bloomberg, Saudi Arabia was “the only country in the world to impose such restrictions” on women.

The ban was widely criticized outside the country, with many calling it a violation of human rights. The BBC noted that some Saudi women have been fined and even imprisoned for daring to drive a vehicle.

Saudi women are also subject to other restrictions. They are required by law to cover themselves in loose-fitting garments in public. They must also cover their heads and must seek the permission of a male guardian in order to travel.

Implementing change

The Times noted that Saudi Arabia, led by a Muslim monarchy that rules according to Shariah law, has long forbidden women from driving, and the change will not take place right away:

The kingdom has no infrastructure for women to learn to drive or obtain driver's licenses. The police will need to be trained to interact with women in a way they rarely do in a society where men and women who are not related rarely interact.
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