The Saudi Arabian culture and government has constantly discriminated against the women. It is disturbing to learn that Saudi Arabia still prohibits women from driving in the 21st century. This presents high levels of systemic discrimination that requires immediate attention. The legislation barring women from driving in Saudi Arabia was adopted as a state policy in 1990. In the recent decades, women and human right activists have staged aggressive campaigns against this draconian policy. However, women involved in such activism have faced ruthless mistreatment from the authority with most being arrested and others suspended from their jobs. The situation in Saudi Arabia has attracted global attention. Although the Saudi Arabian government has not yet withdrawn the policy banning women from driving, there has been a global effort to change this situation. Women should be able to drive because it is a human rights issue, and an equality issue. Driving is a right that everyone should have regardless of his or her gender. Various scholars have explored the issue of women driving in Saudi Arabia from diverse perspectives. Conducting research on this intriguing issue would be of great relevance in developing knowledge about the issue.
Initially, a study by the AFP highlights the present status of the issue of women driving in the Saudi Arabia to establish the attitude of the government and the community at large towards the issue. The article identifies encouraging findings by establishing that the Saudi government presents a positive attitude towards the proposal of scrapping the laws that prohibit women from driving. The author of this article attributes the change in the government’s attitude to the pressure from the global fraternity that drills the Saudi government to change all its regulations that discriminate or oppress women. The article affirms that the success of activism on this issue sheds lights to the women in the country (AFP, 2013). It is apparent that the Saudi government has no option rather than amend its regulations to promote the concept of equality. Denying some people the right to drive based on their gender is a despicable act. Such policies have no room to thrive in the modern world. The Saudi government should open up to this reality and respond accordingly by amending all its oppressive laws. Women should have the right to drive at their own pleasure just like individuals of the male gender.
Nitin, Lim and Wigand presents interesting insights regarding the issues of women driving in Saudi Arabia by exploring the potential of social media in shaping the policy in the country. The article analyzes how social media has been used as a tool to help end the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia. Nitin, Lim and Wigand study highlights that the social media have offered an effective platform for activism. By organizing online campaigns against the women driving ban in Saudi Arabia, social media has become an avenue through which the entire world can join to protest the wrongs being committed in the country (Nitin, Lim and Wigand 120). This important article highlights effective peaceful strategies for evoking change. Calculative utilization of the social media can be practically useful in changing the situation in the Saudi Arabia. A review by the Associated Press also explores the concern of the driving ban against women in Saudi Arabi and the actions assumed by the victims in the quest of challenging this oppressive law. The article highlights the victims’ argument and the strategies for confronting the policy. (Associated Press). From the article, it becomes clear that the Saudi women are entirely annoyed by the policy, thus are willing to engage in endeless battle to see it abandoned. Evidently, the Saudi women have engaged in aggressive protests to challenge this policy. It becomes apparent that this is an issue that cannot be ignored anymore and the Saudi government need to acknowledge this fact.
The fight against the ammendiment of the policy restricting women from driving has been challenged by the Saudi Arabian’s conservative cultural and religious beliefs (Piela 34). Most of these perspectives assume that women being people of the inferior gender can hardly be good drivers (Toumi 2). The worry of most of these conservative people is that allowing women to drive would translate to increased accidents. However, this is a misinformed perspective that is based on prejudiced assumptions. It is indisputable that women have equal ability just like their male counterparts. Bynes argues the need for withdrawing the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia by noting that the policy is of more harm than help to the society. According to Bynes (2), the ban on driving imposed on women in Saudi Arabia has made the roads a tricky place for them to be as they drive. Bynes highlights that women who oppose the ban are at the risk of facing ruthless treatment from the government and the community. This experience is best accounted for by Drake when she talks about her experience as a student in Riyadh. Drake shows that she faced various challenges on roads. For example, the Cops could constantly exploit her by the virtue that she is a woman. Drake exposes the archaic nature of the driving ban and its detrimental effect on the women (Drake 124). As apparent in the Drake’s experience, it is indisputable that the ban on women is practically tormenting and discriminatory. Furthermore, Jamjoom Mohammed supports these sentiments by giving an account of the two women arrested in Saudi Arabia because of protesting against the imposed ban. Jamjoom highlights that the women suffered under the hands of the authority, but they remained motivated to champion the fight against the ban (Jamjoom 3). These experiences affirm that the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia is subjecting women to despicable situations, which highlights the need of amending such policies. Instead of being subjected to inhuman discrimination and torture, women should be allowed a chance to enjoy their free will just like any other human being.
The Saudi government should reconsider withdrawing its ban on women driving because the policy is denting its relations with other countries. In the modern world, most individuals or countries believe on the significance of respecting human rights and fostering aspects such as tolerance and equality by not discriminating against others. In this context, by upholding a ban on women driving, Saudi Arabia presents as an archaic nation that continues to be governed under dictatorial and discriminative terms. This affects the country’s relation, as other countries are not willing to associate with them. Although some countries often opt not to criticize the Saudi Arabia’s actions because of political reasons, the policy is essentially making the country unpopular. However, this approach has weakened the fight against the ban by offering the Saudi government a peaceful ground to continue exercising its exploitive policy. Jawhar explains this situation by exploring the issue from the political perspective. Jawhar asserts that although opposed to it, some countries often decide to remain silent on the issue in fear that they could appear to be interfering with the domestic activities of others. For example, Jawhar states that opting to this option; President Obama decided to remain silent on this issue during one of his visit to the Middle East (Jawhar 4). Lacroix also explains how the Saudi Arabian govern has utilized this opportunity to survive by noting that, despite its anti-progression laws, Saudi remains a close ally of the United States and has not witnessed any protest from US for its laws that oppress women (Lacroix 49). The Saudi women continue to suffer under oppressive laws due to such compromised states.
It is apparent that the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia is a discriminative law that infringes on human rights and contradicts the concept of equality. The Saudi women have practically suffered under this policy. Such anti-progression policies are derailing the Saudi community by challenging the idea of peaceful co-existence. Women should have the right to enjoy equal priorities as their male counterparts. Discriminating against individuals on basis of gender is an archaic practice that has no room in the modern world. Consequently, there is the need of changing this policy to grant women the chance of enjoying equal opportunities.
AFP. "Saudi Arabia 'rethinking women driver ban'." 27 November 2013. The Telegraph. Web. 25 April 2014.
Agarwal, Nitin, Merlyna Lim and Rolf T. Wigand. "Online Collective Action and the Role of Social Media in, Mobilizing Opinions: A Case Study on Women’s Right-to-Drive Campaigns in Saudi Arabia." Web 2.0 Technologies and Democratic Governance: Public Administration and Information Technology. Ed. Christopher G, Reddick and Stephen K. Aikins. Vol. 2012. Ney York: Springer, 2012. 99-123. Print.
Associated Press. Saudi Arabian women renew push for the right to drive. 27 March 2014. Web. 25 April 2014.
Byrnes, Mark. Driving in Saudi Arabia as a Woman. 1 April 2014. Web. 25 April 2014.
Drake, Margaret. A US Feminist in Saudi Arabia: 1980-1982. New York: iUniverse, 2010. Print.
Jamjoom, Mohammed. "2 Saudi women detained for driving in ongoing bid to end ban." 3 December 2013. CNN Web site. Web. 25 April 2014.
Jawhar, Sabria S. Women driving: Don’t interfere in our domestic issues. 23 March 2014. Web. 25 April 2014.
Lacroix, Stéphane. "Is Saudi Arabia Immune?" Journal of Democracy 22.4 (2012): 48-59. Print.
Piela, Anna. Muslim Women Online: Faith and Identity in Virtual Space. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.
Toumi, Habib. "Woman driver in Riyadh gets both praise and criticism." 26 March 2014. Gulf News Web site. Web. 25 April 2014.