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Saudi women kept unjustly immobile by law


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 In the United States, being able to drive is a right of pas sage for most teens as they enter adulthood. It’s an excit ing and nerve wracking expe rience when a young man or woman gets behind the wheel of a car for the first time, and feelings of anxiety during the driver’s license test seem downright overwhelming.

In Saudi Arabia, however, a woman getting behind the wheel of a car will find her self more than anxious; she’ll be absolutely terrified. At least, that’s what the Saudi Arabian government seems to be hoping for by maintain ing its policy of male-only driving.

Recently, a study about the effects of women driving was brought to the attention of the advisors to the king of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul lah. According to The Wall Street Journal, the study al legedly proves that allowing women to drive will encour age promiscuity and will thus eliminate all virgins in Saudi Arabia. The ban on female driving has led to protesting, with some women driving as a form of civil disobedience.

Though a woman driving is considered a misdemean or in Saudi Arabia, Shaima Jastaniah, a Saudi woman, was sentenced to 10 lashes, an extreme punishment for an offense often met with a ticket or a small fine, after she was caught driving. Ac cording to an article by The Atlantic, Jastaniah was alleg edly pardoned via Twitter by Princess Ameerah al-Taweel, but King Abdullah currently holds to his original verdict. In other words, Jastaniah must win her court appeal, or she will receive her lashes.

This alleged study that somehow proves that women driving will somehow elimi nate their virginity is ludi crous, and so is the punish ment sentence to Jastaniah.

Perhaps a woman with the right to drive might find herself more inclined to head over to the home of a gentleman caller. This seems unlikely in the current soci ety of Saudi Arabia, which prefers to hold women down with such a firm grip. Even if a woman were to engage in sexual activity after obtaining a legal driver’s license, it does not prove that driving was the direct cause of her behav ior, and it most certainly does not prove that all women of Saudi Arabia will suddenly lose their virginities when al lowed the right to drive.

Jastaniah’s punishment does not fit her crime, nor should her crime be consid ered a crime at all. She was simply trying to get from one place to another without hir ing a driver. Perhaps this act of independence is far too shocking for the government of Saudi Arabia, but there comes a time when unjust traditions must make way for inevitable progression.

We’ve seen change in the outlawing of Chinese foot binding, and we’ve seen change with the passage of women’s suffrage in the Unit ed States. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see change in Saudi Arabia when women are able to drive.

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Saudi women kept unjustly immobile by law