Women have been given the right to vote in elections in Saudi Arabia, but a ban on them driving remains in place. Two women who broke the law got into trouble—one is to get 10 lashes and the other was detained and made to sign a no-driving pledge, reports Bloomberg. The campaign to win the right to drive is part of the push for greater freedom in the region, one of the results of which was the announcement by King Abdullah on allowing women to participate in elections.
The desire to drive may seem odd in a country like India, where being behind the wheel of an automobile can seem like some form of punishment thanks to the obnoxious behaviour of some road users. But in Saudi Arabia, the ability to drive carries a powerful symbolism. It shows that women can be in charge of that most seemingly most masculine of machines—the motor car. And do it as well or as badly as men.