Amidst major revolutions that saw significant political upheaval throughout the Middle East, the country of Saudi Arabia made headlines because its women wanted one simple right: the ability to drive.
Many women throughout the country have been increasingly protesting the country’s ban on women drivers by getting behind the wheel of vehicles, risking arrest and other dangerous forms of backlash.
The country experienced one of its most widespread protests against male-dominated driving culture last week, in which over 60 women took videos of themselves driving in various areas of the country. Although 60 may seem like a small statistic, those women actually comprised the country’s largest protest against the law. According to USA Today, the Saudi activists “have not received any reports of arrests or women ticketed by the police.”
A Kuwaiti woman attempting to get her father to a hospital just across the border in Saudi Arabia was not as lucky as the protesters. Even though the woman was not from Saudi Arabia, and therefore not protesting the country’s driving law in any manner, she was arrested and held in custody as police conducted an investigation on her.
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Contrary to popular belief, there is no specific law in Saudi Arabia banning women from driving. The common practice is for women to take drivers or rely on their husbands or fathers to get around. However, women are regularly denied licenses and, as was the case with the Kuwaiti woman, arrested for getting behind the wheel.
According to the Kuwaiti woman, she was driving her father to the hospital because he suffers from diabetes and was unable to drive the vehicle himself. The Kuwait Times reports that the woman “was caught driving a Chevrolet Epica on the ‘Sitteen Road’ in front of a hotel in the area located near the border with Kuwait.”