A Saudi cleric says “physiological science” backs up his claim that driving injures a woman’s ovaries and causes “clinical disorders” in their children.
Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaydan issued a warning ahead of an Oct. 26 initiative encouraging Saudi women to defy a long-standing no-driving ban.
“Physiological science” has found that driving “automatically affects the ovaries and pushes up the pelvis,” al-Luhaydan told local news website Sabq.org. “This is why we find that children born to most women who continuously drive suffer from clinical disorders of varying degrees."
His comments garnered criticism on Twitter, the AFP reported.
“When idiocy marries dogma in the chapel of medieval traditions, this is their prodigal child,” tweeted one woman.
“What a mentality we have. People went to space and you still ban women from driving. Idiots,” tweeted another.
Saudi Arabia is the only country that bans females from driving automobiles. Women were banned from even riding in vehicles until early 2013, according to Salon. The new law allows women to ride in a car with a male guardian and only to ride only for entertainment. They are ordered not to ride near men, to avoid harrassment.
Saudi women are also required to cover their bodies from head to toe while in public.
Luhaydan, a member of the senior Ulema (Muslim scholars) Commission and former head of the Supreme Judicial Council, supports the ban on women driving, citing "evidence from the Quran and Sunna (the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed) completely prohibit (women's driving) on moral and social background."
An online petition called “Oct 26th, driving for women” has nearly 12,000 signatures. According to AFP, access to the website was blocked on Sunday.
On June 17, 2011, a protest was held against the ban, but the event had a very low turn out. A similar protest in November 1990 resulted in 47 Saudi women being arrested for demonstrating in cars.