InTrans / Dec 20, 2013
Driving is a privilege
posted on December 20, 2013
I remember that thrilling moment when I turned sixteen, and I could finally get my driver’s license. I work up earlier that morning than I had ever voluntarily done before, quickly shook my dad out of his stupor, and dragged him to the Department of Transportation—I drove—to obtain my passport to freedom.
Driving forces in Saudi Arabia
However, if I lived in a different country, it wouldn’t be that simple. In Saudi Arabia, women can be sent to prison for driving cars, and they must obtain permission from a male guardian, such as a father, brother, husband or uncle, to even be allowed the “privilege” of getting a driver’s license. Now, women are starting to stand up for their rights, and the issue of driving has risen to the forefront through media coverage and controversial campaigns.
Much like Rosa Park’s famous refusal to sit at the back of the bus during the American Civil Rights Movement, the Saudi women are using the driving issue as a platform, and they have received worldwide attention for their Women2Drive campaign.
Manal Al-Sharif was one of the most prominent figures, posting a YouTube video of herself driving in Saudi Arabia. She was seized and imprisoned, even though there are no formal laws that prohibit women from driving. Thankfully, due to international public outcry, Manal was released from prison, but she was forced to lay low for a while to protect her and her family.
Every time I thoughtlessly jump into my car to speed off to the gym, the grocery store, or work, I never really think about the fact that driving is a privilege. In many countries, driving is considered a luxury, only enjoyed by the wealthy and the powerful. But, with privilege comes responsibility, whether we like it or not. Keeping to the speed limit; not texting and driving; buckling up — these are some of the ways we can act responsibly.
If you are interested in knowing more about Saudi Arabian women drivers, you can “like” the Facebook page Supporting Women2Drive or follow them on Twitter.
The Guardian (video): http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2011/jun/17/saudi-woman-defying-ban-female-drivers