Manama: The Saudi Committee for Human Rights and Petition has pressed the Shura (Consultative) Council to launch a debate on the right of Saudi women to drive. The move by the committee is based on a study supported by 3,000 Saudi men and women from various parts of the country and calling for an open debate that should allow women to sit behind the steering wheel “in accordance with religious and social norms.”

Under the bylaws, the Shura Council has to respond to all questions, queries and petition.

“Debating the issue of allowing women to drive gives the Council greater credibility and promotes trust among the people who will view them as their representatives who are ready to engage in the debates they suggest,” Sulaiman Al Zayadi, the former head of the rights and petition committee that submitted the petition and requested a date to debate it, said in remarks published by Saudi news site Sabq on Saturday.

The petition was handed before the end of the last session to the committee that approved it and suggested its debate by the Shura Council members.

The new Shura Council, formed in January and which includes 30 women for the first time in its history has not yet looked into the petition.

The study argued that local social and economic developments in Saudi Arabia and the international covenants endorsed by the Saudi kingdom require that Riyadh allow women to drive cars.

An advisory and executive committee should be set up by Saudi Arabia to draw the religious, social and security regulations to allow women to drive as a prelude for social changes that will make the society more recipient to the idea of women driving, the study said.

The committee should be made up of moderate religious scholars and representatives from the foreign, interior, culture and information ministries, human rights watchdogs, the Shura Council human rights committee and other members to be appointed by the king, it said.