Yesterday I was out for a walk and while crossing the street I saw two cars passing on the red light. All the pedestrians were outraged but only one has externalized his anger. ‘It’s not green you f*** b****, can’t you see? You women shouldn’t be allowed to drive’ he shouted. In that moment I realized that one of the drivers was a woman and that the man that apparently called for respecting the law was violating it, by gender discrimination. He wasn’t actually angry because two drivers were disobeying the rules, but because one of them was a woman. He didn’t mind that a man was accelerating on the red traffic light, but because she did it. Instead of showing a sense of justice, he acted like the law wasn’t meant to be equal for everyone.
This short episode made me think of one topical issue: women driving. A quick search on Google revealed lots of “why women can’t drive”, “women - the worst driving and parking skills” and “fail compilations”. All these encourage discrimination and harm personal integrity. Insulting a woman and minimizing her abilities pulls back her self-confidence. Repeating this action, even if the actual law permits it, women will be afraid to try to get their licence and will suffer from violent verbal aggression in traffic. While this kind of situations can happen in any part of the world (unfortunately), in Saudi Arabia it’s even worse: women remain banned from driving. This rule strongly affects women’s freedom of movement and their right to learn and work, making them dependent on men and even subjugated. Although lots of activists constantly organized campaigns to end the prohibition on driving, the reality is still against women’s rights.
Driving skills are not genetic like these oppressors argue (I’ve heard a lot of times that ‘women simply do not have the driving gene’), but are part of the competencies that one can develop. Denying this freedom is a severe violation of Human Rights. Of course, like any other person that wants to obtain a driving licence, women should know the rules, be attentive in traffic and practice their abilities. Not all of them will like driving, not all of them will take the test for the licence, but at least give them the chance to choose. But like this, they are driven into a closed wall world.
If you are interested in this topic, I recommend you to watch this video: http://www.ted.com/talks/manal_al_sharif_a_saudi_woman_who_dared_to_drive and check this website: http://saudiwomendriving.blogspot.ro/