Saudi Arabia and Women Drivers
The religious groups in Saudi Arabia have put a ban on women driving. The religious group is known as the Saudi Shura. For some time this has been the culture and standard for women, but now at the initiative of more feminist thinkers, is changing. Many women in Saudi Arabia have begun to video themselves driving cars and taking pictures to protest against this ban. The leaders have avoided bringing up the discussion of women drivers, saying that it is not relevant to the counsel right now. Many women leaders protest because Saudi Arabia is the only country that does not allow women drivers. But the concern of many religious leaders is that allowing women to drive will affect morality because it will allow the sexes to intermingle more. This is one of the reasons it has been banned. The problem is not the law here, simply that women are not allowed to apply for a driver’s license. This standard suppresses women in ordinary life because they have to hire private drivers just to do simple everyday things.
So what does this issue look like sociologically? A lot of these laws, especially in the Middle East, are derived from the religious practices that are so ingrained within the culture they are difficult to challenge. We see this within our own country; many of the laws in the U.S. are based off of Christianity, which was historically our countries religion. A lot of our morals and freedoms came through this religion, as well as our laws. Because we are a country that has separated church and state we are therefore in theory, not to enforce one religion. When we see social problems like this arise it is because people are not given the freedom of expression of thought, of belief thought. Saudi Arabia does not let their citizens reflect their own values and freedom. We call these things in the U.S. individual rights. When this is stifled people’s quality of life decreases because they cannot live freely in their own country.
The fact that many women are protesting this unsaid law displays resistance, and although it may be risky, what they are doing hopefully is altering their paradigm. So in this article we see protest as a way some Saudi’s are dealing with this social problem, if effective. This is a social problem because the rights of women are suppressed when they cannot do simple tasks that defy no morality but simply express independence. So Saudi’s women’s rights are stifled and women are seeking change but not getting it. So was this a social problem before women realized it was unfair? Perhaps, because regardless if they identified it or not, some of their freedoms were being taken from them, because not being able to drive put them at a disadvantage in relation to men, therefore producing inequality.
October 18, 2013