Monday, November 11, 2013

Let expat women drive first

Article from Okaz and Saudi Gazette, (Okaz is an Arabic daily, Saudi Gazette is an English paper) dated November 11, 2013. A link to the story is here, and the text is below. All the comments on this article, as of the time I'm posting this, are pro-women driving and are worth reading at the link.

by Ahmad Al-Sulami and Adel Babkair

JEDDAH — A number of men and women who spoke to Okaz/Saudi Gazette on the issue of women driving have voiced their opposition to women getting behind the wheel.

Some even suggested that in the initial stage, expatriate women should be allowed to drive in order to prepare society.

The majority of men said they opposed women driving as it goes against society’s norms and values.

“Women should be accompanied by a guardian to protect them from possible harassment,” said one man, a view echoed by many others.

“Women already face harassment at the hands of young Saudi men and this harassment will only increase if they are allowed to drive,” added another man on condition of anonymity.

Another concern was that women drivers would only increase traffic and congestion on Saudi roads, an issue that traffic police have to address.

Some called for allowing women to recruit drivers while others suggested only women over the age of 45 should be allowed to drive, as they are less likely to be harassed.

Nearly all respondents agreed that Saudi society is not yet ready for women drivers, especially in the absence of strict monitoring by the concerned bodies.

Many women also spoke out on the issue, with some saying both men and women were not ready to see women get behind the wheel while others said it was a personal decision that should be made with the approval of parents or guardians.

“Our society is not yet accustomed to women’s participation in a number of matters and are used to men driving cars,” said one respondent.

Some women suggested that expatriate women should be allowed to drive initially, with Saudi women getting permission once society is ready.

“There must first be strict and deterrent regulations, laws and punishments before women can drive safely,” said another respondent.

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