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Saturday, September 30, 2017 

We can't be fooled by Saudi Arabia supposedly allowing women to drive

New York magazine's made a pretty sensible point why we shouldn't be deceived by the Saudis' alleged willingness to allow women to drive cars and trucks:
Many Saudi women celebrated, for sure, but the decision was unlikely to make them forget the many rights they still don’t have. Left out of most of the jubilant international coverage of Tuesday’s decision is that the actual parameters of the change have not yet been determined; committee of labor and interior ministry officials will take a month to decide on the final regulations for women driving, which may not give them rights equal to men after all.

And just because women will be allowed to drive, that doesn’t mean they will have access to vehicles. It’s not as though every Saudi woman can go out and buy a car tomorrow: For most women, their finances are controlled by their male guardians, and the men will decide whether or not they get a car. That’s why the auto industry doesn’t expect the new policy to boost sales very much.

Beyond restricting their right to drive, Saudi women’s lives are still controlled by the patriarchal guardianship system in myriad ways: They are not allowed to obtain passports or IDs, and are thus unable to leave the country without their guardian’s permission. Nor are they allowed to get jobs, open bank accounts, open businesses, or decide whom to marry or whether to get divorced without the assent of a male relative. Their testimony is worth half that of a man’s in court, they receive only half as much inheritance as their brothers, and they are unable to obtain custody of their children after a divorce. Saudi women remain legally subordinated to men in nearly every respect, and a driver’s license won’t make them forget that.
In fact, what if they don't actually implement the long needed permission for women to drive? If it's only next year this is supposed to occur, then anything could happen, and it could turn out to be very bad indeed. That's why, above all, a campaign must be launched to allow women not just the right to make decisions without a male guardian, but also to go about without having to wear those sickening abayas.

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  • I'm Avi Green
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