Saudi Arabia: Women take to the roads, social media for the right to drive

October 11, 2013 9:28 pm

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Riyadh, 11th October, 2013: Women across The Kingdom protested against the ban on women driving in the country. The ultra-conservative section of the Government had succeeded in passing laws that discourage women from driving within the country, citing that driving “would encourage the sexes to mix freely and ultimately threaten public morality”.

The ban was met with much criticism from the women’s rights activists in the Kingdom. Women from all over the country retaliated through twitter and Youtube by documented themselves behind the wheel in a clear case of civil disobedience.

Although there is no specific law preventing women from driving in the kingdom, they cannot apply for driving licenses and have previously been arrested on charges relating to public order or political protest simply for driving.

Qatar Chronicle - Women Drive

This isn’t the first time that female activists have utilized the social media to prove that driving isn’t immoral or against the teachings of Islam. In 2008, a rights activist named Wajeha al-Huwaider had uploaded video of herself driving on International Women’s Day.

The Saudi Shura Council had yesterday rejected a move by three female members to put the ban on driving up for discussion.

A recent petition has collected signatures from over 15,000 women in support of the right to drive. A female activist commented that the social media outburst witnessed this week was merely part one of a much bigger two stage campaign directed at changing the anti-women sentiment prevalent in The Kingdom.

The social media campaign has been received well, especially by the Middle Class and Low income families in the country; who believe that the ban exerts the financial burden of having to hire a chauffeur.

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The second phase of the campaign is expected to be a major event with active participation from the expat community and women who hold international driving licenses in Saudi Arabia.

We say its about time the Kingdom underwent a much needed transformation in its attitude towards women.

Go Girl Power !




About the Author

Aani Fatimah Khatoon is the Associate editor of Qatar Chronicle. She is a graduate of Bard College and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. A passionate feminist and ardent writer. She pens articles on public interest issues and happenings across the world.

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