Reblogged from Why Evolution is True
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that forbids women to drive. Even foreign women can’t drive. This is part of the religiously-based conservatism that pervades that Islamic nation. You might have heard about the biological consequences of driving: about a month ago a prominent Saudi cleric declared that driving while female damages the ovaries.
Well, Saudi women have had enough, and yesterday mounted a protest of the driving ban. As CNN reports:
Several Saudi supporters of the campaign told CNN that at least 25 women had driven Saturday, and that more planned to do so.
Five women who were spotted driving in the Saudi capital were stopped by authorities and “each case was dealt with accordingly,” Col. Fawaz Al-Meeman of Riyadh police told CNN.
Al-Meeman, an assistant spokesman for that city’s police department, explained that the women weren’t taken to police stations. Instead, they were kept in their vehicles until their male guardians arrived, at which point the women were released after signing pledges not to drive again.
Their “male guardians”? What a great way to infantilize one gender.
Driving campaign supporter Mai Al-Swayan, an economic researcher, told CNN she is one of the women who drove Saturday — and posted a video of her action to YouTube.
She said she drove from home to a grocery store in Riyadh, and then back with her groceries. “I drove on the highway and was noticed by a couple of cars but they were fine with it,” she said.
“I’m very proud. I feel like we accomplished the purpose of our campaign.”
Al-Swayan, who has taken the wheel before in defiance of the ban, said she was worried about what might happen before she drove Saturday, but now plans to keep driving.
Here’s a BBC video from yesterday showing Al-Swayan during the protest. In 2011, she spent nine days in jail after posting a YouTube video showing herself behind the wheel:
As Time magazine notes, this gender bias rests, of course, on religion:
Saudi Arabia’s de facto ban on women driving is based on a very conservative interpretation of Islam that prohibits granting driver’s licenses to women and requires women to get permission from men in order to travel, open bank accounts, attend school, and get married, among other things.
Humor is a great weapon against this type of insanity. Here’s a Saudi dude using a Bob Marley song to parody the driving ban:
The video has gone viral, and you can read more reaction to it at Twitchy.