Saudi police have penalised a woman filmed driving a car, a spokesman said today, warning against violations of a ban on female drivers set to be lifted next June. Authorities summoned the woman and booked her for flouting traffic regulations after she appeared in a video driving out of a luxury hotel in the capital Riyadh. "We call on all Saudi citizens to respect the law and wait until the ban on women driving formally ends," the police spokesman told AFP. He did not specify the nature of the penalty, but added that the woman filmed leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel had not been arrested. He said the owner of the car was separately booked for violating traffic regulations. Saudi Arabia last month said it would allow women to obtain driving permits under a royal decree to take effect in June, sparking euphoria and disbelief among activists who long fought the ban. The Gulf kingdom was the only country in the world to bar women from taking the wheel, a ban seen globally as a symbol of repression. Many women fear they are still easy prey for conservatives in a nation where male "guardians" -- typically their fathers, husbands or brothers -- have arbitrary authority to take decisions on their behalf.
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