For the first time in decades, Saudi Arabia has begun issuing driver’s licenses to women as it prepares to lift its ban on female drivers on June 24.
The government released a statement saying that 10 women were issued the licenses on Monday. A flood of more applications is now expected.
“Expectations are that next week an additional 2,000 women will join the ranks of licensed drivers in the kingdom,” the statement said.
However, this move is overshadowed by the arrest of a number of women who campaigned for the right to drive.
“It’s absolutely welcomed that the authorities have begun issuing driving licenses to women,” Samah Hadid, from Amnesty International, told the Los Angeles Times. “But unfortunately, this comes at a price where the very women who campaigned for the right to drive are behind bars instead of behind the wheel.”
Saudi prosecutors have not publicly identified the women. However, state-backed media accused them of betraying the country.
The lift on the driving ban comes at a time when the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pushed for efforts to modernize the country.