WOMEN DRIVING IN SAUDI ARABIA 5
WomenDriving in Saudi Arabia
WomenDriving in Saudi Arabia
Issuespertaining to human rights have always been contentious in many partsacross the globe. This is particularly the case for women rights, afact that should not be surprising given that women have for a longtime been seen as subordinate to their male counterparts. Indeed, itis often the case even in developed countries that women are seen asinferior not only physically but also intellectually and evenemotionally. This stereotype places limitations on the things thatwomen are allowed to handle with some societies actually putting thelimitations in their formal laws. This is particularly the case forwomen in Saudi Arabia, who are prohibited from undertaking variedtasks including driving. According to Handerson (2014), Saudi Arabiais the only country in the entire globe that prohibits women fromdriving. This provision, regardless of how baseless it may sound, isfounded on the notion propagated by Muslim clerics to the effect thatallowing women to drive would allow for the spread of licentiousness(Handerson, 2014). Harsh punishments, therefore, are handed to womenwho go against this prohibition, with one woman caught doing thishaving been handed 150 lashes last year. Questions have been askedregarding the necessity of retaining or abolishing this, evidently,draconian law. Indeed, there have been recommendations by the ShuraCouncil to change the law. Even under the recommendations, thecapacity of women to drive will be considerably limited as only thoseaged more than 30 will be allowed to drive, not to mention the factthat they will still need to obtain permission for the same from malerelatives. While there may be varying opinions, it is evident thatthe law should be abolished and women allowed to drive themselves.
First,prohibitions against women driving are sexist and discriminatory.Indeed, it should be acknowledged that the prohibitions against womendriving are simply baseless and informed by the need for the males topersistently oppress their female counterparts. Such laws are basedon the notion that women are weaker than their male counterparts andsimilar to children, in which case they need to be protected frommaking bad decisions pertaining to their own lives (Bubshaitet al, 2008).These assertions are not based on any factual evidence rather onsexist notions pertaining to the capabilities of human beings withregard to their gender. Of course, this amounts to discrimination, afactor that denies women of their rights as human beings.
Inaddition, the prohibition has no basis in religious teachings as itis highly assumed. Indeed, the fact that the Islamic clerics are theones propagating the assertion regarding the need to ban women fromdriving has resulted in the idea that there is some religious basisto the same. However, according to McDowall (2013), the moralitypolice has outlined the fact that the ban on women driving has notbeen mandated by any documents or texts within Sharia Law, which isthe Islamic legal code on which a large proportion of Saudi law isbased. Indeed, it is well acknowledged that the law is merely basedon retrogressive customs that have become outdated in thecontemporary society.
However,some proponents of the sustenance of the ban opine that women areworse drivers than their male counterparts. This means that theywould be likely to cause more road accidents, which could have anegative economic impact on the country in the long-term. Inaddition, there is the common notion that women are likely to becomeconsiderably more immoral if they are given the freedom to drive carsas they would wish. While there may be some truth in theseassertions, they are simply not sufficient grounds to prohibit womenfrom driving cars in the country (Bubshaitet al, 2008).First, it should be noted that women have been proven to be actuallybetter drivers than their male counterparts. Indeed, a largeproportion of insurance companies have preference for women-ownedcars as there is less likelihood that they would be involved inaccidents. Women are less likely to drive under influence, simplybecause fewer numbers of them actually take alcohol or other drugs.Similarly, they drive at considerably slower speeds, which reduce thepossibility of accidents (Bubshaitet al, 2008).On the same note, there is no scientific basis for the assertion thatthe morality of women would be eroded simply because they startdriving. Indeed, there are some parts of rural Saudi Arabia wherewomen actually drive, yet there is no evident connection betweentheir liberty to drive and their morality.
Inconclusion, Saudi Arabian women have since time immemorial beenbanned from driving. However, this prohibition should be overturnedand women allowed to drive given that the law has no basis in Shariacode, on which the Saudi law is based. Further, the prohibition issimply sexist and discriminatory against women, with retrogressivecustoms being behind it. Either way, the assertion that women areworse drivers than their male counterparts has no basis in fact,given that research has demonstrated that the opposite is actuallytrue.
Bubshait,A.-J., & Ghaynāʼlil-Nashr (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia). (2008). Womanin Saudi Arabia: Cross-cultural views.Saudi Arabia: Ghainaa Publications.
Handerson,B (2014). Saudi Arabia considers lifting ban on women drivers. TheTelegraph,Web retrieved from<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/saudiarabia/11218174/Saudi-Arabia-considers-lifting-ban-on-women-drivers.html>
McDowall,A (2013). Saudi women driving ban not part of sharia-morality policechief. Reuters,web retrieved from<http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/19/us-saudi-women-driving-idUSBRE98I0LJ20130919>