Women Driving in Saudi Arabia

The Editorial Staff

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that does not allow women to drive cars. This situation has its roots in the deeply conservative Bedouin culture of the Arabian peninsula. Some Saudi religious scholars have justified the ban by using the argument that allowing women drivers will be a door leading to the possibility of many vices. A woman driving alone will be a target for attack, or she may be a temptation, or it will lead to situations where the society is harmed by encouraging other undesirable activities. Other religious scholars dismiss this and state that the current situation whereby women are forced to use chauffeurs or taxi-drivers is one that religion disapproves of. It forces women to share a space with an unrelated male, and this is against religious dictates.

This ban has been challenged on several occasions over the past twenty years with women activists taking to the wheel en masse several times. In 1990 hundreds of these protestors were arrested or lost their jobs and this served to discourage further protests. Another call to rally against the ban was issued this year, but with the authorities threatening stern penalties only a handful of women managed to respond to the call. However, many others have started posting YouTube videos of themselves driving around cities, and with others taking to social media to drum up support, this has become an issue that is gathering publicity. More and more men are lending their support as well; some behind the scenes, and others very publicly, like the Saudi comedian and social activist, Hisham Fageeh, who released a satirical video mocking the ban to the tune of Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman, No Cry’ – his new lyrics included the refrain ‘No woman, no drive’

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