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Saudi woman held for defying driving ban
Published on 22 May. 2011 11:26 PM IST
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A woman was detained in Saudi Arabia after she launched a campaign against a driving ban for women and posted a video of herself behind the wheel on Facebook and YouTube to encourage others to emulate her, a media report said Sunday. Manal al-Sherif, who started a Facebook page called “Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself”, has been urging the authorities to lift the driving ban.
She went on a test drive in the eastern city of Khobar Saturday and later posted a video of the experience, Daily Mail reported. “This is a volunteer campaign to help the girls of this country. At least for times of emergency, God forbid. What if whoever is driving them gets a heart attack,” she asked. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to ban women - both Saudi and foreign - from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers or rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor. “The traditional argument in Saudi Arabia that driving exposes women to sinful temptations by allowing them to mingle with policemen and mechanics, women who drive can avoid sexual harassment from their drivers and protect their dignity.
“We want to live as complete citizens, without he humiliation that we are subjected to everyday because we are tied to a driver. We are not here to break the law or demonstrate or challenge the authorities, we are here to claim one of our simplest rights,” the Mail quoted her as saying.
Through Facebook, campaigners are calling for a mass drive June 17 in Saudi Arabia to encourage women to get behind the wheel. It has now garnered more than 11,000 supporters, the daily said.

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