Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ready to drive

Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal is a business tycoon from the ruling family in Saudi Arabia with business interests spanning across the globe. One of his wives, Princess Amira, talking to Al-Watan said that she was ready to drive if the authorities allowed that. She holds an international driving license and drives cars in all countries she visits, except her home country.

All women are legally barred from driving in Saudi Arabia. Families of women who require mobility have to hire drivers or depend on their male relatives to drive them around. In 1990, with the influx of foreign troops in the country at the height of the Kuwait crisis, 47 Saudi women in Riyadh, took to the streets driving their brothers' or husbands' cars to protest against the social ban on their driving. The religious authorities strongly condemned this move and these women were jailed for a day, their passports were confiscated, and those who were working lost their jobs, most of them were socially ostracized. Their move led to the social ban being turned into a legal ban.

King Abdullah has in the past said that he thought a day would eventually come when Saudi women were allowed to drive. But change will be difficult in this ultraconservative society, where women are still considered and treated as chattel.

7 comments:

Vinod_Sharma said...

I have heard how bad things are in Saudi Arabia for women...it is actually unbelievable...add to that marriages of men in their forties and fifties with children who have not yet reached double figures in age etc, and you have a picture of a very primitive society which treats camels better than women. Am I wrong?

Sagarone said...

You are right, Vinod. I was reading Indyeah's post on freedom earlier and realized that this is also about freedom. The difference is that in western thinking the individual is the unit to which freedom and liberty are applied. While in parochial societies like this one, it is the tribe that is the unit to which the concept of liberty is applied. They are the ones who resist any changes to their way of life. And they are the ones who matter in terms of providing legitimacy to the government of the time, not the individual. So, change is quite far off, just yet.

Indyeah said...

Sagarone after reading your post I started thinking as to how definitions of freedom are so different and so varied depending upon the society one lives in...
even when the ruler in this case hopes to bring about chnage,what can he do in the face of orthodoxy and plain old conservatism?


patriarchy has new definitions here..infact it is slavery..
reading this I am glad of all that we have in India...
and heartbroken to realize that such a country exists where women are deliberately and by law treated like thye have no minds of their own ...like chattel as you wrote...

How do we know said...

this is incredible!! i'd also posted a longer comment but guess it got lost.. thanks for bringing this to our attention..

Varunavi said...

Came to ur blog through dhiren's blog.In few gulf countries women are not treated as women, i will give u an example.I have been to a farm house which had many camels.I was taking a snap of a camel, a omani came to me and said this is a women,he didnt say female camel or any version of that, but said women,so here women are treated more like animals.
Few men rape a women, the men are left free but the women is behind the bars becasue she came out of the house without any male relative accompying her.

Sagarone said...

Welcome to my blog Varunavi! I hope it is not that dusty there in Dubai as is here in Bahrain! There has been a heavy dust storm going on since yesterday.

Gaell said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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