Archive | April, 2012

A Bargaining Chip?

16 Apr

BBC’s article “Saudi princess: What I’d change about my country”

The main cation is this:

“Princess Basma Bint Saud Bin Abdulaziz tells the BBC there are many changes she would like to see in Saudi Arabia – but that now is not the time for women to be allowed to drive. “

I wholeheartedly agree with the points princess Basma made in her article, except what would happen if we drove. She addressed the mahram (male guardian) issue, divorce laws, abuse, and even the whole system of education.  That’s why I don’t understand why she thinks women driving would cause matters to worsen or backfire. Perhaps the loud mutawaas  have succeeded in scaring her. Perhaps she’s offering up the driving issue as a bargaining chip for matters that are “more serious”. who knows? As to the fears, A few women have already taken the initiative and gotten behind the wheel with no one harassing them and few even noticing. It is also the “foot in the door” of many of those issues that the princess raised. If a woman can drive she is no longer as dependent on her “mahram”, she can leave an abuser, drive herself to court… something as simple as being able to decide when you will leave the house without worrying about who will drive you will give women a sense of empowerment that will help them tackle all these other obstacles.
I think the fear that allowing women to drive would make matters worse for them is an unfounded one. Yes, along with any change you will have a few problems, but eliminating them will depend entirely on the official reaction towards any harassers. Pass on a strict anti-harassment policy along with allowing women to drive and anyone who might want to do it will have to think twice. Either way, harassment problems won’t get any worse than they are right now with drivers and all.