Female activists jailed in Saudi Arabia ahead of end to driving ban

Female activists jailed in Saudi Arabia ahead of end to driving ban
© Getty Images

Police in Saudi Arabia have arrested at least five people, mostly women who protested the country's ban on female drivers, this week ahead of the ban's end next month, according to Reuters.

The news outlet reports that activists in the country say the arrests are a result of the Saudi government fearing what will happen if the activists are allowed to claim victory in their advocacy for women.

ADVERTISEMENT

"They detained them because they do not want them to publicly claim success," said one activist who spoke with Reuters anonymously.

Last year, the news service reported that at least a dozen female activists had been phoned by the Saudi government and instructed to not comment on the ban.

Saudi Arabia, which for decades has had laws enforcing male guardianship over women in the country, will end its ban on female drivers next month.

The move has been celebrated on social media, with dozens of pictures of husbands teaching their wives how to drive.

The Saudi Arabia is currently pursuing what it calls "Vision 2030," a modernization campaign undertaken by the Saudi government to end the country's dependence on domestic oil production and diversifying Saudi culture.

Last year, White House senior adviser Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpA Trump visit to Africa is important — and carries some urgency On The Money: Cain 'very committed' to Fed bid despite opposition | Pelosi warns no US-UK trade deal if Brexit harms Irish peace | Ivanka Trump says she turned down World Bank job Ivanka Trump says she turned down World Bank job MORE spoke to female leaders in Saudi Arabia and said more needed to be done to improve the status of Saudi women.

“In every country, including the United States, women and girls face challenges,” Trump said at the event.

“Saudi Arabia’s progress, especially in recent years, is very encouraging. … But there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

In October, shortly after the announcement that women would be permitted to drive, Saudi Arabia announced it would allow women into sports stadiums beginning in 2018.

The country's officials announced that women, who are currently banned from entering the facilities, will be able to attend sports events at stadiums in the cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.