Saudi women should be allowed to drive: activists


Government officials made statements last year indicating that the decision of women driving is up to society and not the repeal of any law.



Indeed, there is no law in the kingdom that explicitly states that women cannot drive.



The ban comes from a strict interpretation of the woman’s need to be with a legal guardian (a mahram) in public. Scholars in Saudi Arabia argue that allowing women to drive would mean they might interact with unrelated men, such as police officers or men who come to assist them in the event of their car breaking down.



"We demand that the right of women to drive is given back to us. It’s a right that was enjoyed by our mothers and grandmothers in complete freedom to (utilise) the means of transportation in those times," says the petition.



The women, who have organised this petition, reminded other women that "rights are not given or earned, they’re taken; through the various peaceful means available — (means) that have been recognised by all international conventions."



"Women are in urgent need of driving. It’s a basic need," said one of the petition drive’s organisers, Fawzeyah Al Oyouni, a human rights activist and one of the founders of the society. Others are human rights activist Wajeha Al Huwaidar and social worker Haifa Osrah.



Al Huwaidar recently held a one-woman demonstration with a placard demanding, "Give Women Their Rights!" She was arrested, detained for seven hours and then released.



The petition is the first action taken by the society, which also aims to tackle other issues, such as domestic abuse.


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