29.09.2022

Saudi women allowed to drive

In Saudi Arabia the ban on driving cars by women. Follow any of these further changes and reforms? Activists do not exclude that this relief will be the only one.Free road, within sight of any obstacles. An accident to provoke impossible. A huge chunk of the desert around Riyadh is a perfect place for learning to drive. “It’s really the safest place to practice,” says the student of Bahia in an interview with DW. The girl is one of the few women in Saudi Arabia, which, in the case of successful passing of exams, you will be able to sit behind the wheel of a car is a novelty, for which so long fought local ladies.

From 24 June to Saudi Arabia cancelled the ban on women driving cars. While a few women received driver’s license – by the beginning of June there were literally a dozen people. However, in the coming weeks their numbers will increase substantially – according to official figures, the wheel will sit about 2,000 women.

Future participants of the road preparing for the exams not only in the desert, studying the theory and basic techniques in driving schools. Here they learn to change a tire, how to handle the wheel and calculate the speed. “If I get my license, first ride my family. We will go somewhere to celebrate”, says one of the students driving schools. Another woman wants on the first day of owning a cherished document to take your mom for a walk. “In the car to be just us with my mom. I’m very glad,” says the girl.

Reform in Saudi Arabia only under pressure

Lifting the ban on driving cars by women in Saudi Arabia want to improve their image, explains in an interview with DW, Ali Adebisi, Chairman of the “European Saudi organization for human rights,” with headquarters in Berlin. Of course, the lifting of the ban is a great step forward, which will give ladies a lot of advantages. On the other hand, the government is unlikely to offer women something else besides self-evident right to drive, says Adebisi.

Permission to women to drive should not be considered as a progressive reform government. “Changes are due to pressure and demands of the Saudi population and the international community. The only thing that led to the changes,” says Adebisi. And recalls that the first time women called for the abolition of the ban on driving cars in the early 1990-ies.

However, the fact that it is allowed, might be the only step towards the legal emancipation of women. Many other rights, they may be further denied and will continue to live under male “guardianship”. For example, they still have no right to travel alone or to sign any contracts. “If we have the possibility of driving to celebrate the newfound right as women, we are obliged to ask questions about the rest of the rights,” says Ali Adebisi.

Saudi feminists – “hostile elements”

The government of Saudi Arabia, overwhelmed with doubt, strongly opposed to women’s emancipation. In particular, this was manifested at the end of may 2018, when some of the most well-known activists advocating for women’s rights, was arrested – accused of “suspicious contacts with foreign organizations” that support to women’s activities.

In addition, those arrested allegedly recruited “several government agencies” and is financially supported by “hostile elements outside the country”.

Among the detained 62-year-old Madiha Algirus. In the early 1990-ies she opposed the ban for women to drive. Their actions Alegres angered conservative religious leaders of Saudi Arabia who insulted her, calling her “a prostitute”.

The current life style in Saudi Arabia are short-lived

The recent arrests are a warning to women by the government, indicates Ali Adebisi. “This way the authorities can let you know that women do not have to push any further requirements. If they behave carelessly, any may be behind bars, as already arrested feminists – this is the hidden message of the government”, – said the activist.

However, Saudi Arabia will probably continue to change. The hope it expressed itself Madeja Algirus, which a few months before his arrest, also spoke, told DW. Change is inevitable, she said then. “Our style of life in its present form is short-lived. Economic growth is impossible if half the population cannot Express themselves. So I am more than convinced that the country must change. The question is when. Personally, I’ve been waiting thirty years”, – summed up Algirus.

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