More than 60 Saudi Women Openly Defy Ban on Driving

Brushing off threats from the governmentmore than 60 Saudi women got behind the wheel on Saturday in a bold protest of the nation’s de facto ban on women driving.


Sara Hussein, a Saudi woman involved in the effort, drew parallels to the U.S. civil rights movement: “Think back in history — Rosa Parks was the only person who sat down on the bus, wasn’t she? And then it started to happen gradually. It does have to start with the few brave people who are willing to risk whatever there is to risk.”

Many women documented the act of civil disobedience on social media, even posting videos to YouTube. The most popular video, which has already been viewed nearly 100,000 times, was posted by May al-Sawyan, a 32-year-old economics researcher. She drove to the grocery store:

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"550679","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Many other videos are posted to the movement’s YouTube channel, October 26 Driving.

On Friday, the Interior Ministry threatened to punish anyone involved in the protest. So far, however, there are no reports of arrests or tickets issued.

Last month, a prominent Saudi cleric claimed that driving would damage women’s ovaries and cause birth defects.

Saudi Arabia does not formally prohibit women from driving, but effectively bans them from doing so by refusing to issue licenses to women.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.