The Daily Gamecock

Saudi Arabian women brave to protest ban on driving

Over the weekend, a brave group of women in Saudi Arabia got behind the wheel to protest an unwritten rule prohibiting women from driving. Despite threats from law enforcement to arrest any woman who challenged the ban, more than 60 women participated, dozens of whom posted videos online to spread the message. Although few arrests were made, police did set up roadblocks to peer into cars to determine the drivers’ genders. One woman was detained for driving around her neighborhood and forced to sign a pledge to never drive again.

The women who participated in the protest should be commended for protesting an unjust rule. While it would be unthinkable for such restrictions to be placed on women in the U.S., their foreign counterparts aren’t always as fortunate. Driving is an activity that should be available to anyone who understands the rules of the road and demonstrates they can safely operate a vehicle. Prohibiting women from driving is discriminatory and promotes the idea that women are inferior and incapable of making their own decisions.

When asked, opponents of allowing women to drive made some very poor arguments. One man said that women shouldn’t drive because they might get a flat tire, and then wouldn’t know what to do in such a situation. The same could be said about men, but nobody is proposing banning all people from driving simply because there’s a chance you’ll get a flat tire. This is because the benefits of driving far outweigh the occasional problems that come along with it.

In addition to driving, Saudi women are also banned from traveling abroad, opening a bank account and working without the permission of a male relative. Such restrictions on women’s rights are repressive; however, the courage displayed by the women activists last weekend should go a long way towards changing both attitudes and policy in the country.