Women’s Rights Progress in Saudi Arabia


Under Saudi law, women are banned from obtaining a drivers license or using one from another country. Saudi women have decided they can no longer tolerate this outrageous law and are planning a driving protest in two weeks. They have also started circulating an online petition. On Thursday, one of the protest’s biggest backers was arrested after tweeting about and photographing her female friend driving through the capital city.

Saudi authorities have blocked the campaign website, but more than 15,000 people had already signed the petition, which demands that the government lift the ban or at minimum give a “a valid and legal justification” for the prohibition.

In preparation for the protest, Saudi women have been practicing their driving and posting videos of their defiance on YouTube. This video even shows a van of men driving by showing their approval with thumbs up.

The only explanation that has surfaced about the ban is an absolutely ridiculous one. Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan, a judicial adviser to an association of Gulf psychologists told a newspaper, “If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards.”

In other news, the first Saudi Arabia woman lawyer was granted a license to appear in a courtroom and even open her own practice last weekend. Until now, women’s law rights have been limited to acting as a legal consultant. Even then, they were only allowed a limited amount of client contact.  The Human Rights Watch says  “Any woman seeking to practice law in the kingdom will still have major hurdles to overcome. Saudi judges have wide discretion to remove a lawyer from a case before them, and nothing would prevent them from using gender to do that. Some judges continue to segregate men and women in their courtrooms.”

Posted By: Brittany Lintner


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