RIYADH - Saudi Arabia has registered its first female trainee advocate, paving the way for women to practise as lawyers in the kingdom where strict Islamic sharia law applies, an activist said on Tuesday.
"The road is open now to women to receive permits to practise as lawyers, after the registration of Arwa al-Hujaili as the first trainee lawyer," rights activist Walid Abulkhair said.
Abulkhair posted on his Twitter account a copy of the justice ministry's certificate of Hujaili's registration.
"The (trainee) lawyer should be contracted by a lawyer who has been in service for more than five years... and should train for no less than three years," he said.
A trainee lawyer is allowed to practise, he said.
The ministry's move would boost the status of women in the ultra-conservative kingdom, where females need the consent of their male guardians in most legal procedures.
Women are also banned from driving and have to cover from head to toe when in public.
In October, the ministry said women lawyers would be allowed to plead cases in court starting November 2012. But the promise did not materialise.
Women law graduates launched a campaign in 2011 demanding that they be allowed to plead in court.