Editor’s note: Due to strict restrictions on freedom of the press in Saudi Arabia, all sources have asked to remain anonymous.
According to a statement by the Saudi Arabian state-run press agency on Sept. 26, the government would be lifting the ban that prevents women from driving in the country.
The decision, which was announced by King Salman of Saudi Arabia, is said to be a royal decree, which will take effect beginning in June of next year.
The Ontarion spoke with three native Saudi Arabians who now reside in Guelph, to discuss their opinions on this decision.
One person told The Ontarion that, “Letting women drive is a thing that has made history by any measure and a difference in the evolution of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.”
The second person explained that the new policy is a step towards an open society that better understands human rights.
According to this person, it might take some time before the new policy will be embraced by some of the citizens of the country who are more closed-minded.
The third person, who asked to be referred to as Mohammed, stated that while the new policy is a good one, which will make transportation easier for women in the country, it is not the first problem that should be tackled.
Mohammed added that, “We have other problems that should be solved: the rate of unemployment in the country is about 12 per cent. Women not [being] allowed to drive is not the major problem that should be solved. Many people in Saudi Arabia have higher degrees, but no job; some women even have PhD degrees, but don’t have a place of work.”
He further said that there has been a big debate among the citizens since King Salman announced the new policy and he is hoping there will be a special law to protect women from sexual harassment while driving.
Photo courtesy of Latuff.