Gender parity in Saudi Arabia is one of the most glaring aspects among others. The tribal culture of the communities dominant in the region has majorly contributed to the lean opportunities granted to the female gender in Saudi. The strong culture and beliefs dominant in the region are interpreted from the Quran hadith as their holy teachings that originated from Prophet Mohammad. The interpretations of these teachings have seen women denied most of their rights (AlMunajjed 23). It must be understood that the sharia law do not prohibit women from driving. Ultimately, Saudi Arabia ranks very low in terms of gender equality when compared to other states in the globe.
Though some of the laws in the Quran and hadith rise against women empowerment, the interpretation is usually spread to cover other laws that are not expressed in the teachings. An example is the ban on driving by women. This is different from other regions that are Muslim dominated like Afghanistan where limitations on women are not so strict. Saudi Arabia dissidents adhere to the Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism which insists on segregation of sexes (Chapman 39). This paper will be an insight into the theme: why women in Saudi Arabia cannot drive cars. It is the argument of this paper that women in Saudi Arabia should be allowed to drive on the basis of the universality of human rights on equality. The main reason for prohibiting women to drive in Saudi Arabia is culturally premised rather than religious based.
The reasoning on the ban imposed against driving by women is multi-fold. The main reason is that the unit of ruler ship in Saudi Arabia is patriarchal. This means that male chauvinism is the order of the day. The teachings in the Quran and hadith are interpreted to segregate, though they do not expressly state that women should not drive. Women are looked down upon with a lot of disdain. This may be argued against by the fact that other regions that are dominated with persons that profess the Islam religion; women are allowed to drive without restrictions (Faris 100). To further this particular ban, Saudi women are not allowed to get in the vehicles, both private and public alone. They must be accompanied by male guardians. The guardian goes with the woman everywhere. Traditionally, the roles of the male guardians included permitting the women on various issues like opening bank accounts. It therefore means that the plight of the woman in the region is not recognized. On this premise, the ban on the women to drive a car in Saudi is to protect the guardian system. Allowing the woman to drive would actually threaten and jeopardize the system (Ghadeer 46).
In the recent past though, Saudi women have been on the forefront to wage for their rights to drive. This has not borne any cognizable fruits. Attempts to stage demonstrations have caused chaos, and even led to detaining of women activists in the desert country. Such was the scenario on the 11th October 2013 protest staged by Saudi women activists. An old Saudi adage state that,’ a girl possess nothing but a veil and a tomb.’ This has not been received well by the Saudi women. Their consternation is that there is no single surah in the Quran that expressly prohibit them from driving. Any human rights movement in the region is discouraged. The international laws on equality are not advocated in this desert kingdom. Saudi Arabia has one of the greatest international influences because of its oil production. Not a single state can intervene on behalf of the women from outside because this would hamper oil production and distribution (Ladin and Ruth 89).
From the above submissions then, the ban on Saudi women in respect to driving is basically premised on both religious and cultural basis. The ban is founded on the cleric rulings called the fatwas made from the Kingdom’s arch-conservative clerical corps. Consequent to this ruling, the government restricts this move by failing to issue driving licenses to the Saudi women. It is basically believed that women when allowed to drive would constantly find themselves in the cars alone and that would lead to social chaos. Secondly, allowing the women to too many rights and freedoms would threaten the patriarchal structure of leadership that is dominant in the desert kingdom. The argument on the other side of the coin is that the limitations on the rights of the women are a violation of international human rights and freedoms which have been accepted world-wide as universally applicable (Thompson 103). From the debate therefore, women should be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia since the Quran does not prohibit such instances.