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Saudi Arabian man ‘divorces wife for driving’

Woman reportedly sent him video of her at the wheel on messaging app Whatsapp
  • @adamwithnall

A Saudi Arabian man has reportedly divorced his wife after she sent him a video which showed her driving the family car.

Saudi women are subjected to a de facto ban on driving in the kingdom because they are not allowed to apply for licences, a fact which has been the topic of numerous criticisms, campaigns and most recently an intervention by President Barack Obama.

According to the Al Arabiya news site, the woman filmed herself driving in a public place and then sent the file to her husband on the instant messaging application Whatsapp, “expecting to surprise” him.

Yet if it was indeed intended as a light-hearted joke, the stunt has backfired spectacularly – the man has now filed divorce papers, and reportedly told a judge that his wife broke not only the law but also “social traditions and norms”.

Al Arabiya reported that the news had divided social media users in the country, with some defended him for “standing up for traditions” and others critical that he would break up a family over the issue.

Outside of Saudi Arabia, the driving ban has attracted almost universal criticism. The international community got behind a campaign in October last year, which saw around 60 women picture themselves flouting the ban.

Naseema al-Sada, who has driven in the eastern region of Qatif, told The Associated Press that public attitudes have changed following the movement.

“Women's rights are no longer a taboo subject,” she said, noting that the campaign is also widely covered in the domestic media.