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Saudi Council Reportedly Recommends Letting Some Women Drive

A Saudi woman poses in this picture to illustrate driving a car in Jiddah as part of a June 2011 protest. An advisory council has recommended for the first time lifting a ban on female drivers. Susan Baaghil/Reuters/Landov hide caption

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Susan Baaghil/Reuters/Landov

A Saudi woman poses in this picture to illustrate driving a car in Jiddah as part of a June 2011 protest. An advisory council has recommended for the first time lifting a ban on female drivers.

Susan Baaghil/Reuters/Landov

In an unprecedented move, a Saudi advisory council says it approves of lifting a ban on female drivers. The Shura Council proposes that certain restrictions be applied, however: Women must be at least 30, have permission from their male guardian, not wear makeup and drive only in daylight hours, The Associated Press reports.

For years, the kingdom has refused to review the ban on female drivers, which is unique to Saudi Arabia, where conservative Muslim clerics have expressed concerns that female drivers could spread "licentiousness."

The AP reports:

"The Shura Council's recommendations are not obligatory on the government. But simply making the recommendation was a startling shift after years of the kingdom's staunchly rejecting any review of the ban.

"The council member told The Associated Press that the Shura Council made the recommendations in a secret, closed session held in the past month. The member spoke on condition of anonymity because the recommendations had not been made public."

As The Two-Way's Bill Chappell reported last year, there have been a number of bold protests against the ban, with Saudi women getting behind the wheel for a day. Thousands have signed online protests against the ban. The October 2013 protest highlighted by Bill was the third of its kind since 1990.

The AP says that the Shura Council recommended that women 30 and older be allowed to drive until 8 p.m. each day if they have permission from a male guardian. They would be allowed to drive from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday through Wednesday and noon to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

The council is also recommending a "female traffic department" made up of female officers to deal with female drivers, the AP says.