Saudi Sisterhood and the Strive to Drive
A year after the launch of the Women2Drive campaign, women in Saudi Arabia continue to rely on men for transportation.
Approximately 700 people have signed a petition addressed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, urging him to allow women to drive in the country. Among the signatories are Manal al-Sharif, who was arrested and jailed last May after she posted a video on YouTube showing herself driving in the city of Khobar, and Sheima Jastaniah, who was caught behind the wheel in the city of Jeddah. She was sentenced to 10 lashes before being pardoned by the king.
Marking the first anniversary of the Women2Drive campaign on June 17, the petition accompanies an open letter from Manal to the Saudi king, asking him to permit women who have obtained driving licences from other countries to drive. The June 2011 campaign attracted global attention thanks in part to its clever use of Facebook and Twitter. It involved a small yet significant act of civil disobedience involving more than 50 women getting behind the wheel.
The petition thanked the king for his reformist stance in giving women the right to vote in the 2015 municipal elections and stated ‘We only want to enjoy the right to drive like all women over the world.’
Saudi Arabia remains the only country in the world where women are not permitted to drive, a practice that Manal says is rooted in tradition and has nothing to do with God. Women in the country have to rely on the help of male relatives or hire a male driver to get around.
Check out the original video, with English subtitles, below.
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