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Saudi Arabia sets up dedicated prison for women drivers

Saudi women celebrated taking the wheel for the first time in decades on Sunday [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 June, 2018

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Saudi authorities have opened a special detention centre for women who violate traffic laws, as the kingdom lifted the world's only ban on women driving.

Saudi authorities have opened a detention centre for women who violate traffic laws, as the kingdom lifted the world's only ban on women driving.

Semi-official news website Okaz reported on Sunday that authorities in the Eastern Province have set up the detention facility at a women's welfare home in the al-Ahsa region.

"The facility will be used for a year until an appropriate centre is prepared for detained women traffic violators," a local police official was quoted as saying in the report.

"It is made up of eight rooms and can hold up to 32 women. The detainees will be separated from suspects in criminal cases," he added.

Saudi women celebrated taking the wheel for the first time in decades on Sunday as the kingdom overturned the world's only ban on female motorists.

The much-trumpeted move is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's plan to modernise the conservative petrostate -- but it has been dented by the jailing of female activists who long opposed the driving ban.

However, much of the initial optimism over Prince Mohammed's reforms appears to have been knocked by a major crackdown on women driving activists.

Authorities have said nine of 17 arrested people remain behind bars, accused of undermining security and aiding enemies of the state.

The detainees include 28-year-old Loujain al-Hathloul - also held in 2014 for more than 70 days for attempting to drive from neighbouring United Arab Emirates to Saudi Arabia - and Aziza al-Yousef, a retired professor at Riyadh's King Saud University.

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