Saudi Arabia Debates Lifting Ban on Women Drivers

(Arab News-Saudi Arabia) Donna Abu-Nasr - Saudi legislator Mohammad al-Zulfa's proposal to allow some women, not all of them, to drive has touched off a fierce controversy in the kingdom. Conservatives, who believe women should be shielded from strange men, say women in the driver's seat will be free to leave home alone and go when and where they please. "Driving by women leads to evil," Munir al-Shahrani wrote in a letter to the Al-Watan daily. "Can you imagine what it would be like if her car broke down? She would have to seek help from men." Zulfa contends that the ban exists neither in law nor Islam, but is based on fatwas by senior clerics who say women at the wheel create situations for sinful temptation. (ABC News) Zulfa argued that lifting the ban would eliminate the social problem of some one million foreign drivers needed to enable Saudi women to move around. Zulfa said the obligation to hire a driver represented a financial burden for families with limited income, and cost the country more than $3.2 billion a year.

2005-06-03 00:00:00

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