Defiant women activists in Saudi fight for the right to drive

Published:  25 Oct at 6 PM
Want to get involved? Become a Featured Expat and take our interview.
Become a Local Expert and contribute articles.
Get in touch today!
Saudi Arabian women are gearing up to overturn the ruling banning them from driving, with protests planned and female activists already behind the wheel.

In a move which, if successful, will free both Saudi women and their expat counterparts to drive legally in the kingdom, the activists are calling on social networks for a Saturday turnout to support their cause. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world which bans women drivers.

The movement is led by Manal al Sharif, arrested recently for posting a video of herself behind the wheel and held in prison for nine days. Now living in Dubai after leading a protest in September, she is heading up the fight to allow all women in the kingdom to drive.

Women are already taking up her lead, with over 50 videos showing female drivers now posted on social networks. Up until now, police have not intervened, and many male motorists are giving a ‘thumbs up’ in support of women drivers.

Conservative religious leaders are calling for the ban to be kept, saying that driving automatically affects women’s ovaries, deforms the pelvis and results in the children of women drivers suffering from clinical illnesses. A tell-it-like-it-is tweet in reply called the comments idiotic, dogmatic and a medieval tradition, and others have pointed out that no religious text or Sharia law forbids women from driving.

Activists claim that, just as the wives of the Prophet’s companions travelled on horseback or on camels, modern Saudi women should have the right to use modern day means of transportation, particularly as public transport is inadequate. A petition, blocked two weeks after its release, has nevertheless amassed 16,000 signatures in favour of lifting the ban, although the Shura Council has now rejected a move by female members to discuss the issue.
Like this news?

Comments » No published comments just yet for this article...

Feel free to have your say on this item. Go on... be the first!

Tell us Your Thoughts On This Piece:

Your Name *
Email * (not published, needs verification one time only)
  • Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • RSS feed
  • Facebook

Latest Headlines

News Links

News Archive