Saudi woman ‘raped by driver

Riyadh, June 02: A woman in Saudi Arabia has claimed she was raped at gunpoint by a male chauffeur she had been forced to hire.

The unnamed woman, who had hired the driver due to strict Saudi laws banning women from driving, claimed she was raped when the chauffeur pulled over in an industrialised part of Medina.

The alleged attack was reported by Suadi Arabian daily Okaz as a campaign intensified to allow woman driving licences and to drive legally.

Attack: The unnamed woman claimed she was raped in the Saudi Arabian western holy city of Medina (file picture)
The woman reported the attack and said the driver, whose nationality was not given, stopped the car in an industrial area of the holy city before raping her as he threatened her with a pistol.
A protest has been organised for later this month where activists have told women to drive their cars during a rally on June 17.

Last month, Manal al-Sharif was detained for 10 days in the ultra conservative arab nation after flouting the ban on women driving.

Defiant al-Sharif, 32, prompted her own arrest and imprisonment when she posted pictures online of her taking the wheel in Saudi Arabia.

She had called upon King Abdullah to release her and was freed on bail earlier this week, according to her lawyer.

Campaign: The imprisonment of Manal Al-Sharif for driving has caused a huge debate about womens’ rights in Saudi Arabia
The divorced mother of one explained in an online video that getting around was often a headache.

Women in Saudi Arabia without the means to hire a chauffeur must depend on the goodwill of male family members to drive them.
Adnan al-Saleh said: ‘We were informed today of the decision to free Manal on bail. The procedural steps towards her release are under way.’

Saleh said he hoped the case against Sharif would now be closed.

Sharif’s plight saw women take to Facebook to organise a group calling for better rights for female drivers in Saudi Arabia.

The Facebook page titled ‘We are all Manal al-Sharif: a call for solidarity with Saudi women’s rights,’ gained more than 24,000 supporters.

A counter Facebook campaign was launched last week urging Saudi men to whip women who drive with their cord from their headdress.

The online page urges men to attack women in response to a burgeoning protest movement against the law banning them from driving.