Saudi to allow women lawyers to plead cases in court

Women lawyers in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to plead cases in court for the first time from next month, according to a justice ministry directive published on Tuesday by Al-Watan daily.

The ruling, which will take effect at the beginning of next month after the end of the four-day Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha in late October, will apply to all women who have a law degree and who have spent at least three years working in a lawyer's office.

"This is a decision we have awaited for a long time," recent law graduate Mona Belabid was quoted as saying.

"We launched a campaign in 2011 to be able to plead in court and it is good that the campaign has borne fruit."

As far back as February 2010, the justice ministry announced that it was preparing a rule that would allow the practice.

The highly conservative kingdom follows a rigorous form of Islam. Women are not allowed to drive, and there are also strict rules governing mixing with the opposite sex.

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