It differs from state to state, but in Virginia I was able to begin driving by myself at the age of sixteen and 3 months. Granted I had to pass my permit test and drive with a parent for 9 months, I no longer relied on other people to go places. It was the ultimate freedom that everyone in high school anxiously waits. I could not imagine what my life would be like if I was not able to get my license. To have to rely on other people to simply get a coffee before class or to go to a doctor appointment seems unbearable.
However, women in Saudi Arabia have to do just that. In a recent New York Times article I stumbled upon explains that a few women in Saudi Arabia are campaigning to make it legal for women to drive. Part of their campaign resulted in them slipping behind the wheel of their cars, which violates one of the most stubborn social code in their society. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the entire world where women are not allowed to drive. The Saudi society fear the idea of Westernization or anything that may detract from the kingdom’s Islamic character, yet there are malls, high-end shops and fast food outlets all over Saudi Arabia. Times are changing quickly and more Saudis are traveling to other countries and returning with new perspectives on their culture. The women of Saudi Arabia are hoping that with a more youthful population emerging and social media spreading, it will finally be the time that they are allowed to drive themselves.
I found a video clip from the Ellen Show about her mentioning the issue in a lighter fashion and about how some women have protested against this.
While reading this article I was taken back that even the government will not issue licenses to women, and even some women have been detained or fired from their jobs for driving. My favorite quote from the entire article is when a “cleric, Sheik Mohammed al-Nujaimi, described the campaign as a “great danger,” saying it would lead to ruined marriages, a low birthrate, the spread of adultery, more car accidents and ‘the spending of excessive amounts on beauty products.’” In my opinion it seems absolutely ridiculous to prohibit women from driving. If a woman needs to run to the grocery story, she must wait until her husband returns to drive her. It just seems very unproductive and the benefits of having women drive completely outweigh the risks, if there are any.