Now call it what you will, 16 is the official driving age in the US. As a freshly minted 16 year old myself, I take great satisfaction in this small victory and newly acquainted sense of freedom. Sure, I may not begin drivers-ed till next summer, but I guess you could say I’ve got some serious promise. Coincidently, as my own trials and tribulations as a young driver are just beginning, so are those of Saudi Women as well… but not quite.
Now of course I’m coming into the issue with my own inalienable bias as a western feminist. It is important to mention that these driving protestors have faced just as much resistance from women as they have from men. Some women claim having other women drive would unspool all sorts of social hierarchies of Saudi society between men and women, along with family order.
On one hand, you have the more secular prince, who continues to promise the introduction of a formal bill, while on the other hand, the more religious influence, the grand Mufti, who strongly refutes this sentiment. In their rationale, many dissenters believe driving would be a health concern to women, as it would damage their pelvic structures and particularly the uterus, affecting future reproduction.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are unable to drive. Though there is no explicit doctrine which states women can’t drive, traffic police will not grant licenses to female applicants nor will they recognize foreign licenses. In Saudi Arabia women are unable to travel or apply for work without a male’s permit. Last month, 60 women demonstrated throughout the country by taking to the streets and hitting the wheel. A new ferocity of pressure has been mounted on this issue in the public eye. We will wait to hear of the progress.