October 26: Day of Action to Support Saudi Women

saudi-drive-campaignTomorrow–October 26, is an international day to support Saudi women. The media-friendly and blogosphere-ready playing field for the discussion of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia is the de facto ban on women drivers. Women are NOT allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia–the only country in the world that bans them. While there is no actual law on the books specifically banning them, they are not issued licenses, so if they drive, they are driving illegally. Tomorrow, Saudi women will challenge the ban. There are thousands of signatures on a petition to try and change the conservative minds of lawmakers and clerics, but previous attempts have led to arrests, so international support and dialogue is critical. The issue grows complex for families, as there is very harsh law about women being in the company of a male who is not a family member, so even if they could, theoretically, hire chauffeurs, they could not be in the car with them (because, of course, Catch-22-like, there are no female chauffeurs)–this also means there’s pretty much no way to ride the bus or subway. Religious leaders have called the rumblings of protest immoral and corrupting of women–saying it is a dangerous conspiracy…just a reminder here, it is being spoken of as immoral for women. to. drive. a. car. to, you know, do dangerous stuff like buy food for the family or pick up the kids. Women in Saudi society have their lives restricted in so many ways: in addition to not having freedom of movement, they can be married off as child brides, without choice, by their male guardians, or, conversely, be banned from marrying (by the same male guardians) and banned from education or employment as well.

In 2011, a woman got in her car and made a YouTube video asking other women to join her in peaceful protest–and she was jailed for a week. Social media’s reach grows more daily, and there are online ways to be supportive. Check it out learn more (here is info from Amnesty International and CNN) and show your support of women testing the waters of independence.

Get involved with the October 26th Women Driving Campaign:

On Twitter
On Instagram
On YouTube

2 responses to this post.

  1. Critics reject the ban on driving on the grounds that: (1) it is not supported by the Quran , (2) it causes violation of gender segregation customs, by needlessly forcing women to take taxis with male drivers, (3) it is an inordinate financial burden on families, causing the average woman to spend 30% of her income on taxis and (4) it impedes the education and employment of women, both of which tend to require commuting. In addition, male drivers are a frequent source of complaints of sexual harassment, and the public transport system is widely regarded as unreliable and dangerous.

    Reply

  2. I am not angry anymore. I have been thinking a lot about women-only city. I have also been thinking of your country and your religion. They both hate you, they treat you like a piece of shit. You should know that burqa-only city is regressive, women-only city is double regressive. If you allow a pinch of humiliation, you will ultimately allow tons of humiliations! You know that you can’t say, NO. You already prove that you are not able to change anti-women system you are living under. You got support from all over the world, but you could not go out in public without burqa, you could not drive your car on your Driving Day campaign. You are afraid of being flogged. You failed to challenge an oppressive regime. You are now going to get a women-only city, you will then get a women-only land. They have created a prison for you. The prison is getting larger and larger. But dear sisters, think positive. More than 100 years ago, a Muslim woman called Begum Rokeya dreamed of a women’s land. Please read an excerpt from her classic ‘ Sultana’s Dream’.

    Reply

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