As I was 29 minutes into waiting to be picked up by my very trusted driver, who is probably fighting through traffic with 5,000 other drivers just like him, trying to get to their “ma’ams”, the voice inside my head (who is generally complacent and extremely tolerant with most annoying quirks and inconveniences unique to to this place) began to scream “why? why? WHY??”
That voice must have resonated somewhere else. In just a few days, history may be made by a group of female Saudi activists who will drive into the streets in protest of the ban on women driving. The campaign’s official website http://www.oct26driving.com/ has been blocked by Saudi’s internet control, yet the story can still be found on globalvoiceonline.org and many other international news sites.
Although there are no official laws or religious justification for banning women from drive, Saudi women have been warned that driving “could have a negative physiological impact … Medical studies show that it would automatically affect a woman’s ovaries and that it pushes the pelvis upward.” [CNN]. It’s also been warned before that allowing women to drive would “provoke a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce” and that there would no more virgins left in the kingdom [Telegraph].
Not all official statements have been negative however. Three female members of Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council recommended lifting the ban on women driving, and even the head of the Saudi Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice admitted that there is no religious justification for banning women driving [USA Today].
We may finally be seeing the beginning of something monumental, or the event may end with a few leaders being arrested and sign an agreement to never drive again like what happened in 2011. Changes will not happen over night, and not without the support from more women, their male family members (who should, btw, drive out that day in scarves and wigs in solidarity with their sisters and daughters and mothers), and prominent leaders who recognize a need for change.
Progress may take time, but voices will be heard 🙂