Thursday, May 26, 2011
Manal Gets Another 10 Days for her "Crime" of Driving
Now faced with losing custody of her son, Manal Al-Sharif has been sitting in jail since the wee hours of Sunday, May 22, when a brigade of policemen swooped down on her home to haul her off to jail. Arab News has just reported that she will be spending an additional ten days in jail for her crime - driving a car in Saudi Arabia, which is illegal because she lacks that extra appendage between her legs required for drivers in Saudi Arabia.
I have yet to figure out why this appendage is necessary for drivng in Saudi Arabia. Although I have never noticed my husband actually using it when he drives, maybe some men use it in steering or perhaps for flicking on the turn signal or the windshield wipers. Maybe some well-endowed men actually use it for gunning the gas pedal or slamming on the brakes. (Ouch.) I really haven't figured it out. What I do know is that in all my years of driving experience before moving to Saudi Arabia in 2007, I must have been very lucky that this appendage deficiency of mine didn't cause me problems when I was behind the wheel.
Another thing that I do know is that in Saudi Arabia, where only men are allowed to drive, the country is widely known for its unsafe and irresponsible drivers, and extremely high percentage of fatal traffic accidents, consistently ranking among the worst and deadliest in the world. Statistics don't lie. Apparently that little appendage seems to actually impede males' driving proficiency in Saudi Arabia instead of improving or enhancing it.
Women don't belong in jail for driving. Women shouldn't be humiliated and treated like children who can't behave or make decisions for themselves. Women just want to be treated fairly and take their places as valued members of society.
For years, the King of Saudi Arabia has said that he is not opposed to Saudi women driving. Petitions with thousands of signatures have been submitted to the government the past few years requesting that the ban on women driving be lifted. Human rights groups have been critical of the men-only driving policy. Lately women have posted videos on the internet of themselves driving in Saudi Arabia despite the threat of being arrested, losing their jobs or children, or being beaten. Every year it is reported that it is hoped that Saudi women will be allowed to drive by the end of the year, and every year, nothing happens.
The excuse, though, for continuing the country's ban on women driving is always that this change will take time for Saudi society to accept this idea first.
I must ask: IF NOT NOW, WHEN?
COME ON! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. JUST DO IT ALREADY!
Cartoon Artwork or this post courtesy of Aafke, artist extraordinaire and blogging author of Clouddragon and Aafke, Horses, and Art. Thank you, Aafke!