Right to Dignity’s statement on lifting the ban on women driving

My Right to Dignity campaign has issued its strongest statement so far. With school starting this week, households across the country are incapacitated by the ban on women driving and resentment has again boiled to the surface. This is evident in the more assertive tone of the statement. In the past few weeks the campaign has received several messages and videos of support from both Saudi men and women and enquiries about the next step planned. Nothing is definite just yet but I predict an exciting year ahead.

Translation of the original Arabic Right to Dignity eleventh statement:

We all know that the duty of the state is to achieve the greatest facilities for the convenience of citizens of both sexes and of all ages. This includes the state’s duty to protect them and ensure their rights in order that the people in turn build a society. This duty is recognized by our government and taken as one of the cornerstones upon which the state based its Basic Law of Governance decreed by King Fahad in 1992. Article VIII of The Basic Law states that governance in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is based on justice, consultation and equality in accordance to Islamic law. Unfortunately our government has contradicted its own Basic Law of Governance.

The State discrimination is based on gender so that men are granted the right to freedom of movement and even adolescents and children driving is tolerated while women are strictly prohibited. This is unjust. This is also not complying with the Basic Law of governance of the country since, instead of basing it on consultation; the ban was issued on the basis of the views of a limited number of men with the exclusion of women. This despite the fact that it was made official only after a group of women protested the ban. That group of women who protested is much larger than the number of men consulted when issuing the ban. God did not distinguish between male and female, when he said in the Holy Quran: “And (He has created) horses, mules and donkeys, for you to ride and as an adornment. And He creates (other) things of which you have no knowledge”. This is the text that many Islamic scholars depend on to legalize driving, but the state and the religious establishment has ignored God’s decree of equality and decided to take the opinion of jurisprudential evidence as legitimately stronger and more important than God’s own words to justify discriminating against women and preventing them from the right to acquiring a license permit to drive. This right to a license permit is stated indiscriminately in the traffic law. Thus the ban and the religious misinterpretation on which it is based causes damage to millions of women based on assumptions and scenarios of a few that have no basis in reality.
As a result of this, religion has become a hardship on women. Saudi women now have the duty towards religion, country and society to carry the culpability and the hardship of not practicing their legitimate right. If any woman takes it upon herself to try to ease this hardship by publicly calling for a lift of the ban or by getting behind the wheel, her patriotism and honor are immediately questioned and she is publicly accused of being corrupt and thereby corrupting society. All this while the government stands by and offers her no protection.

We women are fully aware that society will not advance unless its advancement is with our support, our efforts, our productivity and with us. However this has become virtually impossible due to the overwhelming financial burden and emotional stress that we are forced to undertake just to have access to transportation and the ability to run our own errands within our homeland. The presence of two million legal and illegalmigrant male drivers that exploit the needs of women to bleed them financially of money that is betterspent on these women themselves and their families is unexplainable and religiously, socially and humanely un acceptable.

We are not asking for the impossible. All we want from the state is to stop issuing unfulfilled promises and conflicting internal and international statements about the ban on women driving. We want the state to begin to lift this injustice by issuing a decree to allow women who want to drive, to do so.Those women who do not want to drive are not forced to. Since the rights of citizens is guaranteed by Article VIII of the Basic Law of Governance adopted by the state and on which our government is founded, we hereby will exercise this right and the state has to support us and provide us with protective laws to practice it safely.


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28 responses to “Right to Dignity’s statement on lifting the ban on women driving


    my dear sister I lived and worked as a nurse i8n Saudi and never had the right to drive yet during the Gulf war 1990/1 females of foreign nationality were need to drive so the ban was slightly lifted for the usa females but not others me included(English) MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU MY DEAR AND ALL SAUDI LADIES WHO WISH AND NEED TO DRIVE god go with you Bernadette Frances Wilkin

  2. A royal decree in the following manner could solve the problem:
    In the name of Allah and by the power bestowed on me by Allah and my loyal subjects, men and women, We King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Saud decree that “Women are our daughters, mothers, wives (one at a time) and sisters”. They were born here as Allah willed it.

    Given this undeniable fact, I hereby decree that from today on, no man in this holy and wealthy land has the right and/or power to prevent any woman from working, driving, traveling, going to school, choosing her spouse or owning property if she so desires.

    We King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Saud decree that no man, regardless of relationship, age, wealth, ethnicity, religious orientation, social status or blood purity has the right or power to force women to do any of the above if they choose to continue their “perpetual minors” status. You all know that you can have an audience with me or anyone in my family and express your feelings about this or any other issue privately.

    As you all know, royal decrees are not to be ignored, refuted or questioned publicly. Those who may have second thoughts about the power of the Wali Alamr will be dealt with swiftly as dictated by our superior religion. May Allah bless you and guide you not to disobey.

  3. The Rhetorical Nature of the argument has become a mockery to the Point at Hand. Social Justice and Reform without the benefit of an Arab Spring like Revolution, and the abolishment,of both the Monarchy, and the Plutocratic Capitalist Aristocracy. Capitalism cannot survive without the Plutocratic Monarchy. Fundamentalism cannot survive without at least some form of Socialist Republic. And an Islamic Republic, cannot survive without some guarantee, of Popular Suffrage. Eman say`s of her Heart; What haunts the lurking Shadows, of her Mind… ! الله أكبر!
    Support the Arab Spring !

  4. Re-Edit:
    The Rhetorical Nature of the argument has become a mockery to the Point at Hand. Social Justice and Reform without the benefit of an Arab Spring like Revolution; And the abolishment, of both the Monarchy, and the Plutocratic Capitalist Aristocracy, is but a Delusion. Capitalism cannot survive without the Plutocratic Monarchy. Fundamentalism cannot survive without at least some form of Socialist Republic. And an Islamic Republic, cannot survive without some guarantee, of Popular Suffrage. Eman say`s of her Heart; What haunts the lurking Shadows, of her Mind… ! الله أكبر!
    Support the Arab Spring !


    • Many women have driven- and many many more have no opportunity to learn. You sound like a classic “blame the victim” bully. You have no idea what it is like for these women.

      • mark jessup

        yes i do and i cant stand cowards its 2012 and you can stand up for youreselves- the rest of the world will back you but not if you dont make a move……..blame the victim ? um why would you let someone treat you like this ? you need to protest in mass and then we will help you

      • Ignore this man.


      • suadi women are cowards.what the fuck are you waiting for ? have a large protest the world will back you 100%…freedom isnt free it will cost lives

  6. Mark, I think you might need to acquire a culture before you start firing your bullets. Let’s not blame those who are repressed. It is easy to brag like this when you don’t have to suffer the consequences. And this is not Kansas anymore, Toto…

    • mark jessup

      well i was abused for 15 years and i should of fought back sooner.now i know better…you already have the knowledge to stop unequal rights in Suadi and if you had bid protests the world would back you is a second..you have support you just dont know it because your not protesting…

      • I’m sorry you were abused. Did you have a system that backed you when you fought back? Or were you summarily divorced and had your kids taken from you- and you had to move back home? Did your abusers face some sort of consequence? Or did the law back them up in their abuse? Were you allowed to find a job to support yourself? Were you allowed an education if you wanted one? Or were you required documents signed by your “guardian” to allow you to do so?

  7. Mark, we all agree that abuse is always something that should never happen to anyone. However, one can only do what one can do depending on the circumstances that one is in. Just as Sandy points out, Saudi Women are surrounded by completely different circumstances. Therefore their fight is different, what might seem subtle to you is actually a big statement for them (like driving) so what I suggest is that instead of criticising them for “not fighting enough” we actually support them and encourage them to continue down this path. Because at the end of the day, my back is not going to be lashed and we are not going to suffer the consequences of “their misbehaviour”. You more than anyone else should understand that the oppressed are not always equipped to escape the oppression. In fact, that is what oppression is about, keeping someone in an unfair situation based on their difficulty to escape. Slowly, slowly catchy monkey…

  8. Rahma

    Some Saudi women do claim that they’re happy with way things. I don’t know if they really mean it. I

  9. Saudi Arabia is making steps to bring more women into the workforce, but without permission to drive, all women will not have the same access to employment that Saudi men enjoy. If a woman cannot afford to pay a driver (likely a common occurrence for women seeking work), is not allowed to take public transportation and cannot drive, how exactly is she expected to travel to work on a daily basis? The right to drive gives women the ability to achieve much more than simply getting behind the wheel of the car.

  10. Due to a multitude of institutionalized discriminatory policies against women in employment, millions of educated and qualified Saudi women are unemployed. The Saudi private and public sectors imports over 8 million underpaid and overworked laborers to do jobs most of which can be done by Saudi women, but for better salaries, benefits and a healthy work environment. Millions of the imported expatriate laborers are maltreated housemaids and family drivers or “Saudi Modern Day slaves” as described by Saudi and non-Saudi individuals and groups. Tragically, some of the maids are taking revenge in brutal manners.

    Working Saudi women are using these tragic instances to demand daycare centers where their children would be protected while they work. Presently the very small number of Saudi working women has no choice but to leave their children with angry maids. Building private and public daycare centers by employers would allow women to work without having to worry about the well-being of their children. In addition, more women would seek employment to feed their families if they knew their children were cared for in safe environment.

    In addition to having daycare centers for children of working mothers, other institutionalized impediments that prevent women from working have to be eliminated. The women’s right to drive tops the list. Currently women are not allowed to drive and are rarely allowed to take public transportation alone. In order for them to commute to work they must either get a ride from a male relative or hire a driver which most Saudi women cannot afford. Male relatives often have their own jobs and are not able or willing to regularly drive a woman to her job. As long as the Saudi system continues to forbid women from controlling their own means of transportation, the majority of women will be unable to find and maintain employment.

    Increasing employment opportunities for Saudi women and men is unlikely to happen soon. This is due to the fact that foreign laborers work for very meager wages, live in unhealthy and cheap camps and have no benefits. Furthermore, companies that tend to hire Saudis prefer men because hiring women requires employers to accommodate gender segregation requirements, including separate work facilities. Preventing women from working and earning an honest living forces them to seek government handouts. 85% of Saudi applicants for government unemployment benefits were women in 2011, according to the Ministry of Labor.

    Establishing daycare centers by public and private employers will prevent the killing of innocent children by maltreated maids and enable mothers that need to earn a living to work without having to worry about losing their children. This is a step that can help, but it is only one small step in the scheme of what must be done to remove the unnatural impediments imposed on women by the Saudi state institutions.


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  13. Casey

    I was looking for a Saudi Arabian woman to interview for a school project. I’m looking to interview about women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. If your willing to help please email me at challengegirl28@hotmail.com thank you!

    • mark jessup

      give me a break your all cowards..do something for future saudi women and fight the fight now

      • Casey

        what does that have to do with my comment?

      • jack wilson

        i wasnt commenting on your comment i was making my own statement about cowards–Saudi women iranian women are cowards..its time for war .its time ti kill your leaders to have freedom..kill the Saudi king now.why cant you bomb the king and princes ?

      • mark jessup

        time to blow up the saudi kings and princes its the only way..suicide bombers would be best…or just sit there and do nothing like you have for 1400 fucking years..start killing these animals

  14. McKenna

    As a woman in America I was granted a license at just 16 years of age. To me, driving enables me to have a certain independence I did not have without a license. I now have the freedom to acquire a job, accomplish my daily errands and much more. However, in America, limitations on driving are based solely on age not on gender as they are in Saudi Arabia. In my country there is also no religious basis on which laws are made. Besides driving what other limitations are women faced with in Saudi Arabia that are upheld because of a small group of men’s religious misinterpretation of the Quran?

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