Thursday 22 Feb 2018 | 18:14 | SYDNEY
Thursday 22 Feb 2018 | 18:14 | SYDNEY

Saudi Arabia's women drivers



10 July 2008 10:35

Women drivers is normally a banal enough topic, except when you are talking about Saudi Arabia, where such a thing does not theoretically exist. This week, however, the death of a woman driver in Riyadh brought the issue of women driving in the Kingdom into the public arena again. The issue has been raised many times but has always met with the same negative response. Not that there is any Quranic injunction that forbids it, as is attested by every other Muslim country where women drive.

Rather, the policy is a Saudi cultural imposition designed to protect women’s modesty by limiting the ability or likelihood of women mixing with unrelated males. The rule is often seen as simply another way of controlling Saudi women. Not that women have necessarily been taking the ban lying down. Most famously, 47 women disobeyed the ban in 1990 at some cost to themselves, and since then petitions have been presented to the king, and a video of an activist flouting the ban has appeared on youtube. But still the practice remains banned.

Reports have begun to emerge that women may soon be allowed to drive, but although announcements may be made, nothing happens quickly in Saudi Arabia, if at all.

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