[Reuters] A Kuwaiti woman was arrested in Saudi Arabia for trying to drive her father to hospital, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported on Sunday, a week after Saudi women protested against a ban on female drivers.
Kuwaiti women are free to drive in their country and enjoy far more rights than those in Saudi Arabia, who are not allowed to travel abroad, open a bank account or work without permission from a male relative.
The English language Kuwait Times said the woman was driving in an area just over the border, with her father in the passenger seat, when she was stopped by police. Kuwaitis and Saudi locals regularly cross the border and communities living along the frontier are often a mix of people from both countries.
The woman, who said her diabetic father could not drive and needed to be taken to hospital for treatment, is being held in custody pending an investigation, the paper said, citing police.
The paper did not suggest that the woman was protesting Saudi Arabia’s ban on female drivers.
Saudi police in the border town al-Khafji referred calls to the local traffic police, who could not be reached for comment. Officials in the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry said they could not comment on reports of incidents outside Kuwait.
Kuwaiti women gained the right to vote and stand for political office in 2005 after years of campaigning and a push by senior ruling family members.
Conservative members of the Kuwaiti parliament, including some who draw on Saudi Arabia’s austere interpretation of Islam, had previously blocked the reforms, saying that Islamic law prevented women from leadership positions.
In Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah has pushed some cautious reforms to give women more employment opportunities and a greater public voice, but has often faced resistance from senior clergy.