Sure Saudi women can drive – if you follow these rules!

// 18 March 2008

Earlier this year we posted the good news that Saudi women were well on their way to securing the right to drive. However, nothing is that simple

MEMRI reports that it the Saudi Shura Council has proposed a raft of restrictions. I am not sure how much sway the body has, but while it is good that some women would be able to drive, these conditions make it pretty clear that they do so under sufferance of male control:

A source in Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council reports that the council has submitted a recommendation to senior elements in the country to permit women to drive vehicles, with the following stipulations:

  • The woman driver must be under 30.
  • The woman’s driving is conditional upon the permission of a relative [father, husband, brother, or son].
  • The woman driver must obtain a driver’s license from the center for teaching women to drive.
  • The woman driver must be modestly dressed.
  • The woman driver will be permitted to drive alone in the cities, but outside the cities she must be accompanied by a relative.
  • The woman driver will be permitted to drive Saturday through Wednesday between 7:00 AM and 8:00 PM.
  • The woman driver must have a cell phone with her, so she can call for help in an emergency.
  • The woman driver must pay a certain sum when her license is issued; this sum will be set aside for car repairs.
  • The Shura Council also ordered the following:

    The establishment of a special women’s transportation department; this department will collect the fees.

    The establishment of a telephone emergency center.

    The establishment of transportation centers for women in the cities, which will be under religious supervision.

    The council stipulated that a woman driver who violates these rules will have her license revoked.

    In the framework of this recommendation, the Shura Council is required to impose a one-month prison sentence and a fine on anyone talking with a woman driver from another car, and an eight-month prison sentence and a fine on anyone who sexually harasses a woman driver.

    A transportation administration source reports that the Shura Council has as yet issued no guidelines for establishing a women’s transportation department.

    Two steps forward, one step back?

    Photo by en_el_houston, shared under a Creative Commons license

    Comments From You

    Yunus Yakoub Islam // Posted 19 March 2008 at 6:27 am

    MEMRI is basically a neocon propoganda organisation and the accuracy of the material is publishes has been called into question.

    I can tell you categorically that most Islamic Studies academics (of all faiths and none) wouldn’t touch MEMRI with a 6 foot barge poll!

    That’s not to question the status of women in Saudi, but given its overall human rights record, My concern is why the USA/UK governments have their heads so firmly parked up this nations battyhole.

    Katherine // Posted 19 March 2008 at 7:20 am

    Well…..I am encouraged actually. Remember, when suffrage was rolled out they started with wealthy men over 30…..then under…then married women over 30…forgive me if those details are wrong but you get my gist.

    Of course this is outrageous – I especially love the fact that a woman can get permission from her son!!!!! (despite the fact that she has to be under 30? Does that mean over 30? What’s the logic there?) and that a woman has to have a car repair fund before driving – because we are such bad drivers we are bound to crash!

    This is a start and woman will chip away at the rules over time, that’s the way these things happen – this is the thin end of the wedge!

    Cara // Posted 19 March 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Agree with Katherine.

    It’s a start. Even if the repair fund is an utterly misogynist idea.

    Yes, I wonder if that should be over 30 too?

    Unless they think our female reflexes start deteriorating after 30 or something?!

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