The Saudi ‘study’ that finds all women drivers on the road to immorality


Women driving has been a controversial issue in Saudi Arabia since 1990when 47 women got into 14 cars and drove on to a main street in Riyadh. They were stopped, suspended from work for two years and condemned for years in religious sermons and social circles. The last public assault was when Sheikh Mohammed Al Arefe in 2003 objected to the fact that these women were allowed to go back to teaching because he was worried that they would encourage their students to follow in their footsteps. READ MORE 


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12 responses to “The Saudi ‘study’ that finds all women drivers on the road to immorality

  1. polo de ondegardo

    ¡That absurd and anachronistic rules! I wish you luck in your struggle

  2. Glenn Jackson

    I still do not understand why Arab men are so weak. What strength is there in a man if he cannot control his own behavior? Why blame the independence and freedom of women to live their life in the manner they see fit for a man’s inability to behave? It is stupidity. Women are equal to men. We are all equal before the throne of God – no exception. To say that a woman will cause immorality is just nonsense. This is the type of narrow minded ignorance that holds people to neanderthal standards and denies the grace of God and the movement of modernity.

  3. dan

    At a slight tangent to your piece in the Guardian – my understanding is that the “official” Saudi position is that it is not illegal per se for women to drive, but that it is bureaucratically and administratively impossible for women to get driving licenses, take driving lessons, take driving tests, get insurance and any other necessary documents thereby making it impossible for a woman to actually drive legally; and that the reasons for this are located in “popular,public resistance” to the notion of women drivers. In the real world this is a distinction without a difference, but it does seem crafted with at least half an eye to a PR rationalisation designed to insulate the poor, helpless royals from criticism on this issue.

    I’m just wondering, assuming I’ve summarised the current state of affairs correctly, if this is how the Saudi state has ALWAYS framed this issue, or whether this is a much more recent rationalisation for the policy, departing from a blanket no that required no further explanation.

  4. ” Mysterious Ways ” ? I. cant Imagine what Our Cultural notions of Arabia would be without Our Dark Veiled and Worldly Agent Provocateur. England had Her Wallace Simpson, Her Mitford Sisters; Russia has Her Rosa Luxembourg, Alexandra Kollantai, and A.N.Pakhmutova`s. It may well be that Feminist Political Activism shall bring about Unwelcome Social Unrest in Today`s Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless Saudi Arabia would be a Poorer Place without Her spiritus animus. ” For The Other Half of The Sky ” ~ John Lennon

  5. S.B.

    Usually studies/research in any field can be peer-reviewed or independently verified. Is this not the norm in Saudi Arabia? In a country where there is no freedom of speech and orthodoxy of religion takes supremacy over all other things, I find it ironic how shuyoo5 can make claims and basically say whatever they want even if it’s not based on anything even resembling fact and many times have no basis in religion or even run contrary to Islam.

    I remember my friend telling me that there was a new study done by some Sheikh that said something around 80% of Saudis who study on scholarships abroad become alcoholics. He later had to change his statement because the percentage was so absurd, but he refused to say he was wrong and claimed the real figure is around 65% or something.

    It’s mind boggling, it really is.

  6. Women Driving Will End Virginity in Saudi Arabia

    CDHR’s Analysis: The most offensive new charade to justify barring women from driving was recently issued by the religious wing of the Saudi ruling regime. It stated that, “Within 10 years of the ban being lifted… there would be ‘no more virgins’ in the Islamic kingdom.” To augment its tradition of denigrating Saudi women, the religious establishment’s report went on to say that allowing women to drive will “provoke a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce.” This accusatory and repugnant declaration by the Saudi government’s religious establishment is designed to debase Saudi women, maintain men’s domination over every aspect of their lives and turn people against each other as they do in turning the majority Sunni Muslims against their brothers and sisters, the Shi’a minority. All is done because God and Islam demand it, according to the Saudi High Religious Council.

    Prior to and during the early days of the establishment of Islam some 15 centuries ago, women in the vast and inhospitable Arabian deserts were free to travel, work with men on farms, herd and graze animals, harvest and sell their goods in communal markets and most of them barely covered most of their bodies. Incomprehensibly, 15 centuries later Saudi women are not allowed to travel, seek jobs, go to schools, obtain life-saving medication or give birth to babies in hospitals without male (male-guardian) permission. They are prohibited from mingling with men (publicly or in the work place), they cannot choose their spouses, practice law in courts or vote in the nation’s cosmetic municipal elections. They are the only people on this planet that are barred from driving despite the fact that many Saudi women are doctors, scientists, brain surgeons, professors, businesswomen and pilots. However, there are limits to how much any people can endure.

    Saudi women are fighting back on all fronts, especially for their most basic right: freedom of movement. In recent years, many Saudi women have been challenging the system’s nebulous policies and futile reasoning for denying them the right to drive. Their demands to drive draw domestic and international attention and support, and consequently severe reprisal by their insecure government, including imprisonments, intimidation and threats to some of them, their families and their supporters. The regime, through its religious establishment, is resorting to the most abhorrent and insulting reasons to perpetuate its repression of women as the articles below indicates.

  7. bigstick

    Here is a question:

    How many women really want to drive in Saudi Arabia and why can’t women find a way to organize to demand better for themselves?

    All talk and no action will only get you more talk and more of the same. At some point you are going to have to put up or shut up. I know what I am saying is harsh but change only occurs with action.

    So the question is do Saudi women really want this as this issue has been going on for decades?

  8. Driving is not a big deal nor a major issue, rather freedom and equality is. Women are the production machines, so how could we expect them to produce “real men” if they are treated with inferiority.

    If men are not trustworthy, then they have to be treated. For example in all over the world including the poorest, women do same as men if not more. Even during the times of Prophet Mohamed, women were highly regarded and were leaders.

    • You are a Muslim and a Scholar ! Between Men like Yourself and the Woman Wee have just Described, Arabia will find The Inspiration needed to make the Transition from Troubled Present to Islamic Future !

      • Ms. Danya Alhamrani and Ms. Dania Naseif created the movie production house in Saudi Arabia (Eggdancer Productions), the country’s first female-owned production company. They pioneered the field and became Internationally known. They did it here in Saudi Arabia and so could others.

  9. Fear is infectious even if wrong. I know I’m not saying much, but you know after awhile it’s just not worth it.

    I’m just glad not to be in Saudi Arabia. Once upon a time, I applied for jobs there in my profession. But stopped when application requirements asked for a photo with resume. That is discriminatory here in North America. It is illegal to ask for that.

    To me, that says VOLUMES about how much more work there needs to be to strip away gender/racial/ethnic/religious discrimination.

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