Arab Divorces Wife For Breaking Saudi Women's Driving Ban

Arab Divorces Wife For Breaking Saudi Women's Driving Ban

A Saudi man has divorced his wife after she was videoed driving the family car, despite it being illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia. The Times reports an unnamed woman sent the film to her husband as an act of defiance against the ban.

She is said to have sent the footage to her husband as a joke but it backfired when he decided to divorce her over it. The enraged husband immediately enacted divorce proceedings on the grounds his wife has broken Saudi law.

In recent years, women have become a lot more bold in flouting the driving ban, which is seen as an example of the unnecessary oppression of women. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prevents women from driving.

The incident, in the Eastern province of the country, has sparked a debate in the kingdom. Whilst some agree that he was right to divorce her, others believe the marriage should not have been ended for such a trivial reason.

The driving protests were begun in 2011 by Manal al-Shraif (pictured), who was briefly detained for breaking the law. She was eventually bailed on the condition that she agreed not to break the law again and that she did not speak to the media.

This incident is the latest in what many see as an inevitable move towards more rights for women. At the moment women cannot run for political office but King Abdullah recently decreed that women will be able to vote and run in the 2015 local elections. They will also be eligible to be appointed to the Consultative Assembly. 

In 2009 the World Economic Forum report on the Global Gender Gap ranked Saudi Arabia 130th out of 134 countries for gender equality. The kingdom was also the only country to receive no points at all for political empowerment of women.

Saudi Arabia is the only country other than Liechtenstein to be named after its ruling family. They are able to behave in a way that other ruling elites would not get away with because their oil wealth make them vital to the Western economy. The regime is therefore backing up with a large American military.

There is some evidence that things like the driving ban are starting to lose them friends in the west. Also, wealthy Saudis are widely accused a spending their enormous oil wealth radicalising Muslims in places like Britain. In some cases they have been accused of paying British Muslims to adopt the Burka, against the traditions of the countries they originally came from.