Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Vroom! Vroom!

What the interior of my baby looks like on a rainy night.

Like many suburban teenagers, I took the driving test after completing my SPM (high school exam). I remember being terrorised by a driving instructor who didn't understand that I had no clue that there are other gears apart from 1st and reverse. Hey, my first three lessons were nothing except the bit about parallel and and L-parking, okay?

After getting my license, I harassed my Dad to let me drive. I may have gotten JPJ's (Department of Motor Vehicle) permission to drive on the road, but getting past Daddy!JPJ was much harder. It took a while, but I finally got permission to get myself around in Mum's car, even to uni. Lucky for me, there weren't many students driving in those days, so parking wasn't as hellish an issue as it is now in my alma mater.

A lot of drivers, myself included, take driving for granted. We got wheels and can go places, whether because of work (all those hours behind the wheel cursing other salarypeople like myself who are also on the road) or even out of duty or pleasure. Of course we curse the Government with every fuel hike, conveniently forgetting that we pay the least for fuel in this region, but nonetheless, we could continue to choke the highways and widen that hole in the ozone layer over the McMurdo Base in Antarctica.

Ladies in Saudi Arabia do not have this luxury. Bad enough they are treated worse than toddlers (cannot go anywhere without a male family member or written permission), they don't even have the luxury of self transportation. I don't know if there are any public transport system in Saudi (I doubt it), but with the kind of social restraints put on these women, they can't even board a bus without a pass from their husband/father/brother/son/whoever with a Y chromosome in their household. If their child had an accident in the house and needed to be taken to the hospital pronto, she will have to wait for a male member of her household to come home, pick them up and go.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the whole world that forbids women from driving. The authorities in Saudi Arabia claimed that allowing women to drive would be detrimental to society. Some cleric even said that driving would damage women's ovaries or something equally demented. I am not surprised. It was in Saudi Arabia that I saw signage in shops that says "Women are not allowed!". Like we are dogs. Which is also lousy for business because, hello? Shoppers bring revenue, remember? Who cares what sex chromosomes they carry?

Last Saturday a group of women in Saudi got together and pushed for a campaign to allow them to drive in the streets of Saudi. The website of the campaign was hacked in order to discourage them but at least sixty women donned their hijab and braved the disapproval and got behind the wheel and got to places. It's a start, but hey, even suffragettes didn't get the vote until decades of blood, sweat and tears, hey?

Anyhoo, this guy made this cool video poking fun at the Saudi authority's stand on women driving. Check it out.

Solidarity for our sisters in Saudi!


gostansikit said...

I see the glint of sadness n envy in their eyes whenever they see us driving. It's like they're resigned to their lot in life . But its a step forward, men can b persuaded eventually.thats what i believe anyway

Snuze said...

I agree with you, Ms Goh. Times they are a-changing. One day the Saudi will run out of oil and they will need half of the workforce going out there generating income and moving the economy.

And the women will be zooming by in their solar-powered Lamborghini.

soren said...

saudis are (fill in the blanks). kang pagi2 ni mencarut pulak.

Snuze said...

Zue, org nak bangga sgt nak ikut Arab ni mmg buat I bingung. Bukannya elok sgt dema tu. Mmg la Rasulullah tu orang Arab tapi dema dapat nabi tu pun pasal Arab tu kodok tahap gaban.

NoWomanNoDrive said...

The idea that everyone, in each part of the world use the same system, wear the same clothes and look similar to each other makes me sick.

Let the Indians, the Arabs, the Chinese and the Americans wear their own clothing, use their own system, and hold on to their own beliefs.

If one country or region choose to be different, let them be.

If Sydney allows prostitution ads on her national paper, who are the Saudis to critic? And if the Saudis ban women from driving, who are we to interfere?

There are more oppressing systems in the world, like the caste for example.

But why pick on this small petty issue? Because they are muslims. And the muslims are the punching bag of the 21st century.

True freedom is freedom to think. Not to just be parrots.

adham said...

Catchy song snuze. This guy is funneh *2 thumbs up*

soren said...

sue, aku like comment ko. thumbs up!

Snuze said...

@Adham: good music must be shared!

@Zue: mekasih. Hee!


I love your idea that we should all maintain our cultural identity and idiosyncracy. Frankly, I am terrified of a monolithic Muslim world. As Allah SWT has exhorted in the Quran (49:13) that He has created us from many nations so that we may learn from one another. I also believe that the Quran is truly a living document in that its message are dynamic for all ages and localities.

I would beg to differ with your views that the right for women to drive is a paltry issue and we should allow the Saudis to continue to strangle women's role in society. The right to move spatially and socially without prejudice should NOT be compared with legalised prostitution.

Although I feel that legalising prostitution is ill thought out, it was done in an attempt to give protection to the sex workers rather than leaving them vulnerable to harassment by law enforcement and restitution should it arise. (Just check out Buying Sex is Not a Sport)

Women and men should have some basic rights no matter where they are. Movement is a very basic right that should be available to everyone. The driving issue is just one angle of the bigger issue: whether women have the same rights as men as a citizen. If the answer is no, then this should be addressed because the Quran never indicated that women are lesser in ANY WAY.

Seorang Blogger said...

wow! sungguh deep!! i miss reading ur blog tp kureng sungguh kesempatan.