Offbeat

"No Woman No Drive" in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian women drive in protest of a ban against them from driving.

Most, if not all of the people here know the thrill and pleasure of getting behind the wheel and hitting the open road. We firmly believe that everyone who is of legal age should have the opportunity to experience this feeling in their lives. Unfortunately this is not always the case. In Saudi Arabia, women are shunned upon from driving. A group of activists are trying to change that. Sixty Saudi women got behind the wheels of cars as a group protest against a ban on women driving in the kingdom.

The women had faced threats from police and other groups but they had failed to materialize, whereas previous attempts of carry out similar demonstrations in the past had resulted in arrests. What was different this time around? Social Media. Known as October 26 Driving for Women Group, they managed to acquire 16,600 signatures on an online petition. They also turned to Twitter and Youtube posting videos of the women driving. Powerful clerical parties, who have strong influence on the 90-year-old King Abdulla enforce the ban. One leading cleric recently stated that driving is bad for women's ovaries. Currently, Saudi women must depend on male chauffeurs or relatives to be driven from point A to point B.

One very effective tool bringing attention to the issue has been this mockery video by poster Alaa Wardi of Telfaz 11 TV, a Youtube channel that produces The Onion-like spoofs. It was designed to shame the people who are enforcing the ban and has received over 1,439,781 views in its first day.

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