A Saudi Arabian woman told AFP she defied the country’s ban on women driving, taking the wheel for four straight days before she was stopped. 30-something wife and mother Najla al-Hariri drove “to defend her belief that Saudi women should be allowed to drive.”
“I don’t fear being arrested because I am setting an example that my daughter and her friends are proud of,” she said. She will also be offering driving lessons, thank you very much. Nayla al-Hariri is ruling pretty hard right now.
Saudi women are barely allowed to do anything.. They can’t drive, they can’t travel without permission from their “male guardians,” and they can’t vote in municipal elections. They always have to cover up. It’s one of the most repressive anti-woman environments in the world. In the U.N.’s most recent Human Development Report, Saudi Arabia was 128th out of 138 countries for gender equality.
Hariri ridiculed the social belief that Saudi women are treated “like queens” as they are driven around by their male relatives or drivers, saying “this is a big lie.”
“We are always under their mercy to give us a lift,” she said.
Saudi women are launching a campaign for women across the country to collectively drive on June 17 in protest of the ban. They’re on Twitter, too. Fingers crossed for them.
Here’s a video from 2008 of Saudi feminist activist Wajeha Al-Huwaider driving a car in a rural part of Saudi Arabia and explaining some of the issues therein.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 15, 2011