Sunday, October 27, 2013

Women Behind the Wheel (Saudi Arabia).

Will women ever be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia? The question now is: When will women be allowed to drive? Another question is: Why aren't women allowed to drive?

This is a controversial subject in Saudi Arabia, and the questions above have different answers from different parties.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women cannot drive. Long ago, when cars weren't in the reach of middle class consumers, it was not a very outlandish thing. But now? Especially with the purchasing power in Saudi, it is queer that women do not drive.

Do Saudi women and women in Saudi know how to drive?

Many Saudi women have driver's license in other countries and do drive when they travel out of the Kingdom. 

Women living in Saudi may have driver's license in their countries back home. Several of them find it hard to adapt to the 'no women driving' culture in Saudi. They might not understand why and feel frustrated as public transportation is also not always available in some neighbourhoods, and they have a hard time getting around. 

Does this have anything to do with Islam?

Many anti-Islamists may use this as a propaganda tool to prove their point that Islam is a "backward" religion. Too bad for them because banning women from driving has nothing to do with Islam, and it is not Islam which is preventing it in Saudi.

Is driving for women illegal in Saudi?

Surprisingly, there is no legislative law in Saudi that states that women cannot drive. So it is not illegal.

If it is not illegal then why don't women drive?

It is illegal to drive without a driver's license, and in Saudi, women are not issued driver's license.

Is there any way women can drive legally in Saudi?

They can drive a rented car/ a car with a foreign number plate using a driver's license they issued from another country. They can drive a car with a Saudi number plate with an international driver's license (if the international driver's license includes Saudi as one of the countries you will be able to drive in).

Then why don't they do this?

The car rental shops will be liable, and renting cars to women will most likely cause them trouble. Saudi women are registered with a male wali (her male guardian) and he will also be liable for her actions if she drives. A young woman by the name of Manal, did post a video of herself on YouTube driving in Saudi a few years ago; she did not get off easily with officials. Yesterday, on the 26th of October, women had arranged a campaign to go out and drive in the streets of Saudi. The Ministry of Interior threatened that there would be consequences for anyone who participated in the campaign. The campaign was then cancelled by the initiators, but a lot of women still went on with the show. Those who were caught received penalties.

Why are they preventing women from driving?

There are many possible theories and reasons behind this. It may even be a reason you may never even contemplate in a million years such as a Western country controlling Saudi and preventing authorities from allowing driving so that the world will get a bad idea about Arabs and Muslims. Which they have already managed to achieve in several different ways, but who knows how desperate they could get?

Here are a few interesting things to look at: 

The first, is an article stating that a "scientific" study shows that if women are allowed to drive in Saudi there will be no virgins after 10 years. The website is not a very credible source though, so it might be a bunch of chicken scratch written for propaganda. The reason I'm sharing it though is because this is the way some people really think.

The second, is a song of mockery and satire sung by a young Saudi comedian. He touches on the subject in a very effective way. The video was published yesterday in support of the women's driving campaign, and it received over a million views up till now! The singer also mentions a subject that has been one reason why women were supposedly not allowed to drive: that driving affects a woman's ovaries and her ability to conceive children.

The link to the article:

The video: