Monday, November 24, 2014

Expat drivers harass our women

Opinion piece about the issue of male drivers harrassing the women they are driving around in Saudi Arabia. It was originally printed in Al-Sharq al-Aswat but appeared in the English language daily the Saudi Gazette on November 24, 2014. Here is a link to the story and the text is below.


Expat drivers harass our women

Saud Al-Fawzan

UNFORTUNATELY, every week we read a new story about an expatriate driver who has harassed one of our fellow female citizens. This includes private and taxi drivers.

These incidents find their way to the social media, thanks to those who want to smudge the reputation of our beloved Kingdom. Should I blame the driver who has come to us from the deepest reaches of Asia or should I blame those who prevent our fellow female citizens from driving because they think it is an action that might lead to further sins?

Ironically, those who oppose women driving are the ones who are in dire need of a decision that would allow female motorists to get behind the wheel.

Some detractors remind me of a story that took place in 1880 in the United States when an indigenous man asked his chief about the time the civilization of Native Americans would collapse. The chief told him this, “When you see the white man’s wagon pass by you.”

Some of the critics think along these lines. They think the concept of women driving is not suitable for our society.

I do not see any good ways to prevent harassment by those arriving from abroad. No matter how severe the punishment is, the problem of harassment won’t go away.

Regrettably, we either overlook or ignore the fact that those drivers are illiterate. However, if drivers are truly indispensable, we should not trust them with our women and daughters.

Why? Because incidents of harassment involving these drivers are on increase. A newspaper recently published a story of a young woman who jumped out of the car while traveling on road because the Asian driver harassed her. What should we expect tomorrow from such drivers?

The only way to curtail such crimes is to admit there are crimes of this type in our society. We should recognize the problem and try to find suitable solutions although the evident solution is lying before our eyes — allowing women to drive.

I do not think such a solution is impossible to apply, for we have applied solutions before for more complex issues than women driving.

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