December 7, 2014:
In Saudi Arabia, where it is illegal for women to be behind the wheel, two women have been arrested for driving their cars.
Two activists for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia were arrested for violating the ban against female drivers in the muslim nation, and authorities have extended their time in jail. One of the women, 25-year-old Loujain al-Hathloul, drove across the border in Saudi Arabia from the neighboring United Arab Emirates where she holds a valid drivers license. As an act of protest, she filmed herself driving across the border in support of the grass roots effort that began last October aimed at overturning the restrictive ban, and allowing women more freedom and autonomy over their own lives in the nation. The video was uploaded to YouTube in “an effort to sustain the campaign for women’s driving” on November 30. She was then arrested by officials in Saudi Arabia the following day on December 1.
Reports have indicated that a second woman, and fellow activist of al-Hathloul, 33-year-old Maysa al-Amoudi, was also arrested in Saudi Arabia for violating the driving ban. Both women have already been detained for six days and are to be held for another 25 days, although no legal reasons were given for the extended jail time. Their detention seems to have been extended by Saudi authorities in an attempt to send a strong message, and try to curb other protests and prevent more women from violating the ban like al-Hathloul has done. However, the hundreds of thousands of people who follow the pair on twitter do not show any signs of weakening their resolve because of the arrests and in fact, the harsher penalties may actually serve to create more awareness and international support for the rights of women in Saudi Arabia. Organizations like Human Rights Watch have called for their immediate release and an end to the discriminating practice.