Saudis elect 17 women in landmark local council polls: news site

Published December 13, 2015
A Saudi woman casts her ballot in a polling station in the coastal city of Jeddah.─ AFP
A Saudi woman casts her ballot in a polling station in the coastal city of Jeddah.─ AFP

RIYADH: Saudi Arabians voted 17 women into public office in municipal elections in the conservative Islamic kingdom on Saturday, the first to allow female participation, a state-aligned news site reported on Sunday before all official results were announced.

The election was the first in which women could vote and run as candidates, a landmark step in a country where women are barred from driving and are legally dependent on a male relative to approve almost all their major life decisions.

Sabq.org, a news website affiliated with the autocratic monarchy's Interior Ministry, reported that a total of 17 women had been elected in various parts of the country. Some results had been announced on the official Saudi Press Agency, including the victories of four women.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia boasts modern infrastructure of highways, skyscrapers and ever-more shopping malls. But women still face many restrictions. They require permission from male family members to travel, work or marry.

Ruled by the Al Saud family of King Salman, Saudi Arabia has no elected legislature and faces intense Western scrutiny of its rights record.

A slow expansion of women's rights began under Salman's predecessor Abdullah who announced four years ago that women would join the elections this year.

Related: Nine things Saudi women still can't do

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