Two Saudi women detained for more than two months for trying to defy the country's ban on female driving have been released, activists and news agencies reported Friday.
Loujain al-Hathloul was arrested for attempting to drive from the United Arab Emirates into Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world where women are prohibited from driving. Maysaa al-Amoudi was detained when she went to the border to support al-Hathloul, according to AFP and the BBC.
Both women were sent to a terrorism court in the capital of Riyadh in December for their posts on social media, activists said.
The two women are only the latest to take up the campaign to gain the right to drive. Saudi blogger and columnist Tamador Alyami got behind the wheel of her car in October 2013, posting a video of her brief drive on YouTube.
“I don't think that they are suspicious," she said in the cell phone video, referring to the traffic police.
But they did get suspicious, stopping her and a handful of other Saudi women who dared to drive in the streets of this ultra conservative kingdom.
"In my sixth attempt I was stopped by traffic police. And I signed a pledge not to drive again," she told Fusion late last year. "The car is my car and the registration is under my name, but they still made my husband sign the pledge. And they towed my car away for eight months without a ticket."
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are banned from driving, not because it is illegal but because of tradition, with the Kingdom's male-dominated society imposing the strict rules.
Saudi women have been campaigning for the right to drive since 1990. The campaign reignited in 2011 on social media when a small handful of women—including Alyami—got behind the wheel and posted videos of their daring drives on social media. Today, many of these women continue to push forward in their demand to drive despite the risks and punishments they may face, which range from imprisonment to lashings.
Supporters of the ban call the ongoing campaign a "conspiracy of women driving" that can lead to more car accidents, low birthrate or even the spread of adultery.
But Alyami and others aren’t giving up.
"The campaign is worth every risk because it's one right, a lot of rights that we are missing and we are asking to have a good life. And all our rights, not only this right because standing passive and just waiting for your rights to come to you will not work,” Alyami said in the interview last year.
She had filed a lawsuit against the police after her car was taken from her. She hasn't driven since.