About Me

Rebellious Saudi woman. My life has began once i arrived to Canada in 2008, from that moment i realized that there is a lot of things i need to catch up with .... Welcome to my Blog. If anything I have to say offends you, I can assure you that I am not sorry.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Women Driving Debate, Again

Women Driving Debate, Again

wajiha Al-huwaider ( human rights activest )

It was the day of November 6, 1990 when more than fifty women, whom university professors and some of their students decided to break the silence and drive their cars for half an hour around the capital city of Saudi Arabia, protesting against their country's ban on women driving. The police arrested them immediately even when they showed their international drivers licence. In addition, the police asked their male guardian to sign a statement promising they wouldn't do this again. Moreover, they weren’t able to work or travel for one year as their passports were confiscated. The inability to work or travel was not the only thing these women face at that time but also the protestor's names and their family name was spread everywhere on the streets and mosques, as they were called "whores" and "pimps", and in one day the heroes turned into a bunch of pariahs. After eighteen years from this historic event, the protesting of these women changes nothing. The debatable issue of letting women drive in Saudi Arabia has come to the surface from time to time, especially after some women write about it in the newspaper or even take an action toward it. For example, Wajiha Al-Huwaider, a human rights activist, tried to send a message to the public when she drove her car in a private compound. As many of people saw on YouTube, that women should not be denied this right just because she is born female. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world who inhibits women from driving by using many excuses to not to change this thing. Although some governors and religious scholars oppose the regulation of allowing women to drive, there are several reasons that encourage reversing such decision.

In country like Saudi Arabia, where the male dominates the life, it is not strange to find that women are eliminated from specific positions to study or to work places. There are many restrictions on women, no matter what position the woman holds or how old she is! Always, she needs male guardian to do things like receiving medical treatment, going to school or even work. In addition, the women driving ban is one of those restrictions.

Opponents of such regulation claim that this decision will encourage women and society as well to move towards westernization and may lose the privileges that women held in Islam. However, encouraging women's mobility and empowerment does not mean that we put away the religion or even traditions. The pressing reality pushes us to embrace different lifestyles in order to improve our situation socially and economically. In the economic problems all over the world, it is necessary for women to work, and driving will help her to have access to the public institutions and achieve this goal. There are a significant number of Saudi women who are barred from work and cannot improve their economical condition because they lack mobility. Moreover, the unemployment problem in Saudi Arabia does not help them to use a private driver or pay for a taxi every time they need a ride. Many women decide to give up getting a job because of the lack of public access, and it is hard to pay what they get from their work for a private driver or taxi. For instance, Friend of me has found work opportunity in kind of far area from where she live for about 1500 SR but when she found a driver, he said that he going to charge her 700RS per month. At the end, she could not accept the job offer and work for only 800 RS. It does not worth it! She said. What privileges Saudi women have! They are dependent completely on male guardian, lack mobility and cannot even make any decisions without income.

Opponents also argue that supporting this decision can increase the number of sexual harassments cases among women if they decided to be on the road alone. In spite of this claim, the number of harassment charges related to sex was not low. The sexual abuse does not report itself. Many children and women are afraid to report these cases because they are afraid they might have received the blame while they are victims. Why do the opponents assume that women don’t know how to deal with their problems in different situations, while they trust and encouraged 16-year-old males to be on the road even if he is behaving irresponsibly? Women are grown up and able to make decisions and actions like male adults. The Saudi society and government usually does not take serious action toward women abuse since they are the ones who encourage such action by improperly dressing or talking. Moreover, due to the fear of bringing shame to the family name, the victims stay silent. As a result, The number of these cases is not consolidated therefore This issue should undergo investigation to prove the influence of hiring private drivers on families and women especially as Nasser Aloud, a professor of social services, reported. According to Aloud, the number of the private drivers in Saudi Arabia has reached to 740,000 drivers. In addition, because families and women are in need of someone to drive them everywhere and there is no chance for women to access the public easily the number of the private drivers might increase if the banning continues. The regulation of allowing women to drive can help to reduce the sexual abuse cases as we decrease the times women and children are spending time alone with a stranger. By encouraging women to work as private drivers, we are helping to ensure that women who cannot drive or the children will be in safe hands. Because the foreign workers don’t speak the native language fluently, and they are not familiar with the society traditions so that might not help the people to reduce the sexual harassment cases as such law still absent.

Opponents' state that women do not need to work while there are somebody taking care of them since the opponent believe that work and bring the money is the male duty and it is not even necessary for women to work. However, there are more than 70% of Saudi women finished university degree but only 5% of them working for private sectors. In addition, the unemployment rate of the women in the kingdom up to 79%. Why women should live dependently for their whole life, while they can work and enhance their social life and economical condition as well. In fact, Saudi women have the lowest percent of participation in the labour force among the other gulf countries. For example, the highest rate was for the United Arab Emirates 59% while the lowest percent was for the Saudi women 15% for the government-employed and 5% for the private sectors. The differences between Emirates women and Saudi women obviously clear as the UAE women have many privileges over Saudi women. By supporting such decision, we are offering huge work opportunity for the women. Not only increase the job chances but also the country will benefit from keeping the money circulate inside the country which is positive for the national economy as the foreign drivers send the remittances abroad.

To conclude, in every society you will find different opinion of different issues that may people face every time and it is not fare to take one of these opinions into account and ignored the rest. No body will suspend from his/ her rights. There are always options and those who are not agreeing with women drive they can choose not to do. Religious and opponent always taking the easy way to evade the discuss of many issues by saying that the society is not ready yet for the change and neglecting the people's right to express their opinions about many issues. This is unbreakable circle and we need to understand as Saudi men and women that the longer we wait the harder it will get to change it. All we need is to train the police officers and be harsh on whomever breaking the rules of driving on the road by execution of punishment and penalties. In addition, if they aware of the mingling between both sexes then establish separate driving schools for the women could be the solution of this aware. It will be hard at the beginning but for sure, it will work at the end.


Anonymous said...

i dont drive and i dont want to. Sometimes my husband will let me drive aruond our neighborhood with him. But i think this is too bad. these women should be allowed to drive if they need to!


Daughter of Arabia said...

Thanks Anya for ur comment i get ur point and this is exactly what i ment to let the women decide what they need. Thanks again

Denise Bomfim said...

Salam! Greetings from Rio, Brazil!
Congratulations for you and your amazing blog. You write with soul!
Good luck!
When you have a free time, visit my blog, too.
Ramadan Mubarak!

Daughter of Arabia said...

hi Denise, visiting ur blog is the first thing i do aafter reading your delightful comment on my post. Happy to hear that. keep comment of every new post so i know what other people think about me and my country.


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