Daily Video

October 28, 2013

Saudi Women in Cars Protest Driving Ban

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Over the weekend, Saudi women protested their country’s longtime ban on women driving by getting behind the wheel and posting videos of their efforts online. It’s the latest challenge to religious leaders and rules that require women to get approval from their husbands or a male guardian in order to work or travel.

Dr. Madeha Al Ajroush has been pushing against the driving ban for more than 20 years. The right to drive, she says, is as much about practicality as it is about principle.

“You’re completely dependent, 24/7 if an emergency happens in the house, you can’t pick up and leave,” she said. “My driver is my bloodline. If my husband is not available and most likely he’s not, he’s got his own stuff to do. Then I can’t go to work, I can’t take my daughter to the hospital, I can’t go for an emergency, I’m completely stuck.”

However, women in Saudi Arabia have a long way to go. One Saudi cleric recently said on television that driving poses a risk to women’s health.

“When a woman drives a car her mind is preoccupied and when she sits for a long time her pelvis bounces and this bouncing places pressure on the ovaries,” he claimed.

Despite this, Al Ajroush is not stopping her protest efforts anytime soon.

“Nothing is given to you, you have to fight for it, we know in the United States, the suffragette movement, we know in Europe women had to really struggle, women had to be in prison,” she said. “No reason would I think that it should be any easier in Saudi Arabia, it isn’t, it’s just a matter of being persistent and just continuing one after the other, one request after the other and right now our main request is really driving.”

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Warm up questions
  1. Is driving a right or a privilege? Explain your answer.
  2. What are some reasons that you want to be able to drive?
  3. If you were told that you couldn’t drive because of your gender what would your reaction be?
Discussion questions
  1. Imagine that you are King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. What are the risks and benefits in your eyes to letting women drive? How would you approach this issue when many in your country still do not want women to drive?
  2. Imagine you are a women in Saudi Arabia who wants to obtain a license so she can drive. Explain to the class why you should be allowed to drive and how not letting you drive is hurting the country.
  3. If women were not allowed to drive in your country how might that impact your life? How would it impact the economy?
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