This article was published on “The Voice of Women Initiative”, check: http://vowinitiative.org/2013/10/21/when-getting-driving-license-was-a-dream-now-it-is-a-danger/
I quote “Women who drive risk damaging their ovaries and producing children with clinical problems”, according to a conservative Saudi cleric called Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan.
When I first read this, I said: what is the difference between the driving seat and the other seats in the same car? I was speechless, this discrimination has gone too far. After struggling for many years, to have a minimum of rights which are universal rights that any woman in the earth should obtain; this person comes up with his strict idea that driving has a negative effect on women and their unborn children !!
Where are the rights of women to express their needs? To go to school by their own? To have natural rights? Why are Saudi women not allowed to live a normal life?
Many people in Saudi Arabia believe that only men are permitted to acquire driving licenses. Why is this so? It is simply, because the issue of being permissible to drive is key to attaining other rights of women, for this reason, they try to shut down all the surviving chances for women to be treated equal.
“If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards,” as Sheikh Lohaidan believes.
He added; “That is why we find those who regularly drive with children who are suffering from clinical problems of varying degrees.”
In the other side, there are the opponents of allowing women the right to drive in Saudi Arabia have faith that women driving will only break the country’s traditional code. How come, there are against women driving by their own, but they employ a male driver who is not a family member, which means that women will be in a car with a stranger, what traditional code are they talking about?
This simple freedom to drive speaks volumes about the state of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.
Conceivably not every Saudi woman wishes to drive, but by repudiating women the opportunity to partake, they refute all women’s full rights as equal citizens below the law. Yet; no government should be able to reject her opportunity to do so.
Anyway giving women the right to drive will not change the approach in which Saudi Arabia views its women. There is a crucial need and an opportunity to generate a dialogue of change in the country. As Manal al-Sharif herself stated when she chose the Arabic phrase that convoys her social media campaign: “Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself.”
Yes, for Saudi women to drive! Yes, for Saudi women to study what they want.
Yes, for Saudi women to have equal rights! Yes, for Saudi women to have a normal life!
And yes, for all this to change.
*** Manal Al-Sharif is a Saudi woman campaigning for the right to drive in her own country.