27 Oct 2013

Saudi women defy driving ban

11:09 am on 27 October 2013

A handful of Saudi women have taken to the streets in their cars on a day of collective protest against the ban on female drivers.

The action was the third of its kind since 1990, after which a number of women were arrested or lost their jobs

Several videos of women driving have been posted online despite official warnings that women who took part risked sanctions, the BBC reports.

Before Saturday's protest, some women received warning phone calls from men purporting to be from the Interior Ministry.

But one woman who took part told the BBC she had faced no reprisals as she drove to a nearby grocery shop accompanied by a reporter.

Mai al-Sawyan said she knew of three other women who also drove.

About 17,000 people signed a petition calling either for women to be allowed to drive or for an explanation of why the prohibition should remain in force.

Interior ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki said on Thursday that those who defied the prohibition on driving, and their supporters, were likely to face unspecified measures.

Campaign activist Zaki Safar said that this was an unusually explicit statement of the ban, which is informal rather than enshrined in Saudi law.