Critical Commentary: Saudi Arabian women fight for more rights

Posted on October 27, 2013 by


I will be discussing the article Saudi Women Challenging Driving Bans, Hope For New Gains by Aya Batrawy. This article discusses how women in Saudi Arabia are taking to the roads in order to protest not being allowed to drive. It takes the stance in supporting the women, and is biased in portraying those who oppose it. In the article it says that there is no law banning women from diving, but the cleric do not want to see them driving, and are backed up the clerics in the police court and the cleric judges. Women in the country need authorization from a male guardian for things like travel, surgery, marriage, and higher education, but driving is not allowed under any circumstances. There are more women who have been taking to the roads, before the planned protest day of October 26, and have been taking pictures of male drivers passing them giving them the thumbs up for support. This is a hotly debated subject with protests by women driving going back all the way to 1990. The article also talks about the reform King Abdullah is trying to do, but in a very cautious way to not upset the ultraconservatives in Saudi Arabia.

Since Saudi Arabia is very much an Islamic country, all the restrictions on women highlight the religion. In the country, the strict interpretation of Islam is known as Wahhabism and is effectively the law of the land. Islam has many rules for women, some of them are as basic as having to wear a head scarf and loose fitting clothes, to having to have a male guardian whether it be a father, spouse, or son. The Wahhabism is why there is such a big group against women drivers. Over 150 clerics rallied against the women’s protest, and have even accused the United States of organizing the protest. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to not allow women to drive. The biggest argument is that it is not a law that bans women from driving, but that the country does not issue driving licenses to women, which shows this is more about religion than it is about laws. Even the government sent out a notice that it will be cracking down on any congregations that disrupt the peace, but this protest is just to have women drive, not congregate anywhere. Many have taken this as a sign from the government that it supports the cause of the women.

With all this protesting and back and forth between the women and clerics is lost it shows the country is progressing, and that Islam within the country is progressing to. The fact that both side acknowledge this is progress. The clerics may not admit a problem, but their King, King Abdullah, has already made some small progress for women. The articles stance is very much in support of the women, and even quotes some. This article does not quote anyone who opposes it, nor does it give any support to the cleric’s argument. It does a good job of tying in the role of Islam in the culture of Saudi Arabia, but does not say anything that would blame the religion for the need of this protest. Islam is not the centerpiece of this article, but can be felt in every paragraph. The author is a women publicist, who in the article goes as far to say that the government in Saudi Arabia has edited some of her work, she has been able to publishing more and more work that is more critical but has not been edited. There could have been serious consequences for the author of this article, but it seems that with the progress the country has made, there won’t be much, if any.

Batrawy, Aya. “Saudi Women Challenge Driving Ban, Hope For New Gains.” The Huffington Post., 24 Oct. 2013. Web. 26 Oct. 2013.

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