29 Sep 2011

Saudi king saves woman driver from lashing

9:47 pm on 29 September 2011

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has overturned a sentence of 10 lashes imposed on a woman who defied a ban on female drivers in the kingdom.

On Tuesday the woman, named as Shema, was found guilty of driving in the city of Jeddah in July this year.

The sentence came two days after the king announced women would be allowed to vote for the first time in 2015.

In recent months, scores of women have driven vehicles in Saudi cities in an effort to put pressure on the monarchy to change the law.

The Saudi interpretation of Islamic law includes the guardianship system under which women need permission from a male relative to participate in public life.

However, correspondents say King Abdullah has struck a reformist stance since he ascended the throne in 2005, especially in regard to women's rights.