Target: King Abdullah
Goal: Express support for Saudi women’s right to drive
Saudi Arabia’s prohibition against women behind the wheel must end–and Saudi women have made great strides toward changing public opinion through activism. Sign the petition and tell King Abdullah that you stand in solidarity with Saudi women and support their right to operate motor vehicles.
The ban on female drivers in Saudi Arabia has made headlines throughout the western world, but what many people do not realize is that there is no official law against women being able to drive in Saudi Arabia. Instead, “religious edicts there are often interpreted to mean women are not allowed to operate a vehicle,” CNN reports. Another common misconception is that the west must “rescue” Saudi women, when in fact activists in the country have been working hard for many years to make driving a legal reality for women.
Eman al-Nafjan is one such activist; she films other women driving and uploads the videos to the internet. On a recent drive, al-Nafjan and the driver, Azza, were stopped by police and brought to the police station. In what al-Nafjan deems a positive turn of events, however, neither she nor Azza was arrested, and both women were released not long after their initial detainment. On another drive the day before, al-Nafjan and a different driver encountered many male drivers who smiled and gave them thumbs-up and other signs of encouragement. Al-Nafjan believes that these are signs of public support for recognizing women’s right to drive.
Despite many positive developments, the fight for woman drivers in Saudi Arabia has not yet been won; comments on a YouTube video filmed by al-Nafjan demanded her arrest, and a high-ranking cleric in Saudi Arabia was recently quoted warning women that driving could damage their ovaries. In the face of opposition like this, support and solidarity will never go amiss. Sign the petition and declare to King Abdullah that you stand alongside Saudi activists in demanding recognition for women’s right to drive.
I am writing to express my support for Saudi activists, who have been working tirelessly and often at great personal risk to ensure that women receive recognition of their right to operate motor vehicles. I urge you to acknowledge their brave contributions by immediately revising the laws that prohibit women from driving.
It is ridiculous and nonsensical for Saudi Arabia to continue to deny women the right to drive. From a human rights standpoint, it is disgraceful that adult citizens in the year 2013 would have their ability to operate a motor vehicle restricted by something as arbitrary and irrelevant as their sex. Furthermore, it makes little sense from an economic standpoint, as it renders roughly half of the adult population completely reliant on others for transportation.
An apparent shift in public opinion regarding female drivers has encouraged activists, and Your Majesty’s own pro-woman reforms — such as allowing women to run for office and vote in local elections beginning in 2015 — have helped set a tone conducive to greater positive change. I urge you to hear the cries of Saudi women and make the prohibition on women driving a thing of the past.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ihm Min-hyauk via Wikimedia Commons