Let us all applaud the courage of the handful of Saudi women who got behind the wheel on June 17th in a bold act of civil disobedience against a frighteningly misogynistic and medieval society. It’s estimated that approximately a dozen women throughout Saudi Arabia took to the road either alone or with family members to defy the Saudi ban on women drivers. Security forces were apparently ordered to ignore any female violating the ban, and at this point, no arrests have been reported.
This woman-behind-the wheel driving demonstration was organized in response to the arrest of Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi woman who was detained by authorities after she posted a video on YouTube that showed her driving through the streets of Riyadh. She was released after ten days imprisonment only after she agreed to sign a pledge declaring that she would not drive again nor speak publicly.
Here’s a clip that will introduce you to two of the very brave women who are risking imprisonment and public whippings fighting for the basic right of mobility. Saudi Arabia is the only country on planet Earth that prevents women from driving. But despite the entrenched misogyny, there are many Saudi men who support the distaff driving campaign. One Saudi gentleman summed up his country’s cultural dilemma very succinctly: People have gone to the Moon and we’re still wondering if women should drive.