KUWAIT: A Kuwaiti woman was arrested in Saudi Arabia after she was caught driving in the kingdom where ultraconservative laws ban women from taking the wheel. According to a Khafji police report, the woman was caught driving a Chevrolet Epica on the ‘Sitteen Road’ in front of a hotel in the area located near the border with Kuwait, while a Kuwaiti man was in the passenger’s seat. The woman told the officers that the man was her father, adding that he is diabetic and cannot drive and that she had to take him to the hospital for treatment. The woman remains in custody pending investigations.
Saudi authorities have warned women of legal measures if they defy a long-standing driving ban in the kingdom. At least 16 women were stopped by police last Saturday and were fined and forced along with their male guardians to pledge to obey the kingdom’s laws, as more than 60 women said they defied the ban.
A growing number of men are quietly helping steer the campaign, risking their jobs and social condemnation in the conservative kingdom. Some of the men have even been questioned by authorities, and one was detained by a branch of the Saudi Interior Ministry – a move that sent a chill through some of the activists working to put women behind the wheel. In the run-up to last weekend’s protest, men played a key role in helping wives, sisters and female friends to enjoy what they believe is a fundamental right. Since the campaign was launched in September, they have produced videos of women driving and put them on social networks. They have helped protect the female drivers by forming packs of two or three cars to surround them and ward off potential harassment. And some have simply ridden as passengers with the women as they run their daily errands.
By A Saleh