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Saudi woman's 10 lashes sentence overturned by King Abdullah

A court ruling ordering a woman to be lashed 10 times because she drove a car has been revoked by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi women walk past a car in Riyadh
Saudi women walk past a car in Riyadh
Image: HASAN JAMALI/AP/Press Association Images

A WOMAN IN SAUDI Arabia who was to be lashed 10 times for driving a car has had her sentence overturned by King Abdullah.

A government official told the Associated Press that Shaima Ghassaniya will not receive the punishment handed down by a court for defying the kingdom’s ban on female drivers.

According to the BBC, two other women are due to appear in court on similar charges this month.

Since June, women have taken to the roads in their droves to campaign for the ban on female drivers to be lifted.

In fact, there is no written law that restricts women from driving but it is rooted in conservative traditions. In order to break the taboo, the Women2Drive campaign was set up by activists.

In the past, police stopped women drivers but let them go once they promised not to drive again.

The ban on women driving also applies to foreigners in the kingdom. Most families hire live-in drivers but those who cannot afford to do so rely on male relatives for transportation.

Royal support

The campaign has the support of Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel, the wife of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

Following the overturning of the sentence yesterday, she tweeted:

#women2drive Thank God, the lashing of Shaima is cancelled.Thanks to our beloved King. I’m sure all Saudi women will be so happy,I know I am.”

She also thanked the “active Saudi women” for their efforts.

The Princess and her husband – who had lobbied the government for support on the matter – spoke to Shaima after King Abdullah’s announcement. According to Ameerah, she was happy about the King’s orders to revoke the “unjust sentence”.

According to Forbes, the Prince said reform in the kingdom “moves on, regardless of some voices”.

Read: Woman sentenced to 10 lashes for driving a car in Saudi Arabia>

-Additional reporting by AP

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