Saudi Arabia has forever been under great scrutiny due to its unfair imposition of restrictions on women. The women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to vote, or go anywhere without a male family member. They cannot even go swimming or try on new clothes when they’re out shopping. And sadly, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world today where women are not allowed to drive. They are educated, and they work right alongside the men. They can even own a car but cannot drive it. The women have been expressing their disagreements regarding the law that prohibits them to drive. They launched their first campaign in quite a long time in 2013 as they signed petitions on the internet and jointly agreed to defy the law on October 26, 2013. Many came out on the roads, and the police stopped 26 of them. Every time a woman drives, she is arrested by the police and in some cases even put in jail, even though the law contains no express instructions against the driving of women out on the roads. Even the Islamic text doesn’t mention any rules against women driving, because were that the case, no Muslim woman would have been permitted to come out on the roads. The basis for the restriction, therefore, is by far unknown. Culture seems to be the most reasonable excuse that could explain the attitude of men in this respect.
It is about time that this ban is lifted. Even the Saudi Royalty is taking steps no matter how small to make the practice acceptable in the country. The Saudi Arabian Ashura council decided to relieve the ban by suggesting that women over 30 be allowed to drive. There are however a few catches. The women while they’re driving cannot wear makeup, and can only drive during daylight hours. In addition, they would require permission from a male member of the family to make the practice acceptable, and if a woman were to leave the city premises, she should also have a male family member by her side. The authorities may not be going all out when granting their women this little piece of luxury, but it’s still a start. In my opinion, this was the right step, although it enforces many needless restrictions on the women that are quite unfair. Regardless, the legalization of driving for women was a step that was a long time coming. Even today, young women dress up as men and steal their father’s cars just so that they could experience the thrill of driving. In the states, this is regarded as a simple act of rebellion, but in Saudi Arabia, it is a crime that could get a woman arrested. Mohammed Jamjood, a CNN reporter who resided in Saudi Arabia tells her story. When living in the US, her mother used to take her for ice-cream to the nearest superstore, but when living in Saudi Arabia, her father was away from home one time and they couldn’t go out for ice-cream. Jamjood did do understand the ordeal at the time.
There are countless reasons why I believe Saudi women should be allowed to drive. First, it is not fair to wait for a father’s, husband's or son’s approval before a woman could find someone to accompany her so that she could step outside for shopping or go for work. Secondly, it is very unfair that so many working women are sparing significant portions of their month’s salaries so that they could hire a driver to take them places. Also, since driving is not prohibited by the law, or by religion, this baseless constraint should be uplifted. Many women want to drive, and they ask every day why they are not allowed to. The reasons, unfortunately, aren’t convincing enough. Or, they probably do not exist from the very start. Even the Saudi king Abdullah supports the driving of women, and he said so to the reporter Barbarah Walter from the channel ABC News in 2005. The most important reason however that freedom of movement is is a very basic human right and no person should be denied that. An online petition was launched in September 2013 that called for the right of women to be able to drive and so far, has been signed by 11000 people.
BYRNES, MARK. Driving in Saudi Arabia as a Woman. 1 April 2014. <http://www.citylab.com/politics/2014/04/driving-saudi-arabia-woman/8771/>.
Jamjoom, Mohammed. Why Saudi Arabia can't ban women from driving forever. 25 October 2013. <http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/25/world/meast/saudi-women-drivers-jamjoom/>.
Kealing, Jonathan. Soon women in Saudi Arabia may be driving — as long as they don't wear makeup. 7 November 2014. <http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-11-07/soon-women-saudi-arabia-may-be-driving-long-they-dont-wear-makeup>.
Omran, Ahmed Al. 10 Reasons Saudi Women Should Be Allowed To Drive. 27 September 2013. <http://www.buzzfeed.com/alomran/10-reasons-why-saudi-women-should-be-allowed-to-dr-996m>.