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Saudi woman sentenced to 10 lashes for driving

Women in Saudi Arabia have been driving cars in defiance of the kingdom's ban.

Saudi arabia women driving ban 06 17 11Enlarge
A Saudi woman, reportedly named Aziza, defies a ban prohibiting females from driving cars in Saudi Arabia on June 17, 2011, in a rare protest coordinated through social media under the banner "I will drive the car myself day". Still image taken from a video posted to YouTube on June 17, 2011 user "aziza134". (YouTube)

A Saudi Arabia court has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for driving in violation of the country's ban on female drivers, the BBC reports.

The sentence comes just two days after King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud announced that Saudi women will be allowed to vote for the first time in 2015.

The woman, who is identified only as "Shema," was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July, the BBC says. Women2Drive, which campaigns for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, says the woman has lodged an appeal.

Two other Saudi women are due to appear in court later this year on similar charges, the BBC reports.

Najalaa Harrir, one of the activists behind the "My Right, My Dignity" campaign trying to end discrimination against women, will be brought to trial for violating the ban on female drivers, the Associated Press reports.

Harrir recently appeared on a TV show while driving her car in the city of Jeddah.

More from GlobalPost: Saudi women demand driving rights

While there are no traffic laws that make it illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia, the ban is a religious fatwa imposed by conservative Muslim clerics. Supporters of the ban say it protects women, and prevents them from leaving home unescorted or travelling with an unrelated male.

Women in Saudi Arabia have started openly driving cars in defiance of the kingdom's ban on female drivers.

Some women have publicized their driving on social networking sites, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

“The driving ban is increasingly upsetting Saudi women, who now make up more than half of this country’s university students. Graduating in record numbers, they are looking for jobs and they want to drive themselves to work, to the shopping mall, to the grocery store and to their children’s schools,” wrote GlobalPost’s Caryle Murphy.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/saudi-arabia/110927/saudi-arabia-ban-female-drivers-woman-sentenced-10-lashes