Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why Saudi Women Need Drivers

It seems my interest in the Saudi Arabian justice system is becoming a repeated blog topic for me. As I mentioned in 2 previous posts here and here, I lived in Saudi Arabia two times so my interest is more than casual. My experiences living in the middle east and in other parts of the world give me perspective on many issues we deal with here in the United States, especially as they relate to our individual freedoms.

A couple of months ago I wrote about several brave Saudi women who were audacious enough to DRIVE!! The nerve! That's right. Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive, so they must either have male family members take them everywhere or hire personal drivers at several hundred dollars a month. No soccer moms there, maybe soccer drivers, but the point is that it is a really really bad idea to drive in the country if you're a woman unless you're willing to go to jail. That's exactly what happened to the women who decided to drive in protest.

Now one of the women, Shaima Jastaina, will receive 10 lashings by whip for driving without permission. One of the religious mufti who enforce religious law in the country said about the ban on women's driving, "It's for women's good.". Apparently it's to protect them from having too much freedom which would lead them to sin. I have to say if there's anything that has led me to sin, it hasn't been driving a car. Sometimes my car was my escape from a questionable situation. And now that I'm a mom, staying home in isolation with no means of escape would be much more likely to lead me to do something crazy than being able to get in my car and just drive. Although having a driver sounds swanky, I often find driving therapeutic, except for driving in Korea which is a story for another day.

The Saudi ban on female driving applies to foreign women, too. Yes, my mother had to use a driver who was shared with other foreign women at my dad's company. Imagine the scheduling nightmare, just saying. No impromptu trips to the store or last minute errands. My mother handled all of that pretty well considering she had 3 children and my dad was gone nearly half the time on business trips. Her attitude was that we were guests in the country and we had chosen to be there. True enough, but for Saudi women this is a way of life not a two- year stint in some exotic country.

If you'd like to read more about this wave of Saudi women taking to the streets, you can read this article from the Associated Press and this previous post on my blog Suffrage Saudi Style


jennie w. said...

The whole argument of women driving/voting/dressing however they like misses the point--it's that men cause all the problems in the world. Sorry, but that's how it is. Prostitution, war, violence. All men.

Financial Aid for College said...

AMEN to that, Jennie!

I can hardly bear to read about this kind of injustice -- it gives me a stomach ache.

My one consolation is my firm and powerful belief that in the next life, every pain we inflicted on others will be perfectly and completely experienced by us.
THAT will be perfect justice! TAKE THAT WHIPPING, MUFTI!!

Financial Aid for College said...

Kim, I don't know HOW I got this identity on Google blogs. Honest, that is NOT my name. Do you have any idea how I can get rid of it?

I do own such a blog, on which I keep handouts for my workshops.