The latest ruling from Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Silly Sharia Laws concerns women and driving. The good news is that they’verecommended allowing women to drive. The bad news is the rules they set for the women WHEN they drive.
On March 17, 2008, Alarabiya.net reported that the Saudi Shura Council has recommended allowing women to drive. The recommendation follows recent efforts by Saudi women rights activists headed by Wajeha Al-Huwaidar and Fawziya Al-Uyuni. Ten days ago Al-Huwaidar marked the International Women’s Day, March 8, 2008 by driving her car in Saudi Arabia appealing to the minister of interior, Prince Nayef to allow women to drive. Her driving was posted on Youtube and received international attention.(1) [To view the clip translated into English see MEMRI TV clip No. 1712, visit http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1712.htm]
The following is a summary of the Saudi Shura Council recommendation.
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.
(1) For CNN’s coverage, visit http://edition.cnn.com/video/?/video/world/2008/03/10/nasr.saudi.women.drivers.cnn (for video) and http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/03/11/saudi.women.drivers/index.html (for the article). For ABC News coverage, visit http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=4422278 (for video) and http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=4420162&page=1 (for the article). See also http://politiken.dk/udland/article481878.ece.