82% of Female US Senators Sign Letter to Saudi King: Let Women Drive
July 28, 2011
Wow! 82% of Bipartisan US Senators agreed on something! How often does that happen?
Here’s the ironic portion of this post: only 17% of the United States Senate is female. AND- this is the highest percentage EVER in this country. That’s right, only 17 women in the US Senate. And of those 17 women, Three DECLINED to sign a letter in support of the rights of females to DRIVE in the only country on earth where females are still prevented from driving. This is our “post feminist” world, peeps. Where even mentioning Women’s Equality in this country is greeted with the same regard as a discussion of a fart in the room. Where the biggest concern of “feminists” is whether someone thinks they are a man-hating Lesbian. Where every suit, every haircut, every shoe, and every photo of a female candidate is scrutinized through the filter of the male gaze and the performance of gender submission . Where males pass laws stating that female people don’t actually even EXIST. So before all the Westerners reading this feel so dang “liberated” compared to our sisters in Saudi, look in the fucking mirror first.
Speaking of our sisters in Saudi Arabia, the ongoing courageous battle to obtain the simple right to drive a vehicle continues. After dozens of women took to the streets last month on June 17th and drove without arrest, and many women driving since, authorities seem to be –at least half-heartedly- cracking down.
A woman was arrested last week for driving herself to the hospital while suffering a hemmorhage, and authorities intend to file charges. “According to the newspaper, the unnamed 35-year-old was arrested in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, then released with her father as her guarantor.
The woman said she had to drive because she was suffering from a hemorrhage and, “in the absence of public transportation” and no driver of her own, she had no other way to get to the hospital, Okaz said.”
According to the same article two other women were arrested in the crackdown last week.
But Saudi women stand firm in their resolve to win their rights by their own doing, and their fight continues. Manal Al Sharif, who was imprisoned for nine days last month for posting a video on YouTube of herself driving was intitially reported as giving up the fight for Saudi women’s right to drive. Reports said she was silenced and forced to sign a paper renouncing driving, and promising silence on the topic. But last week in her first published interview since her release she told the BBC “We won’t stop until the first Saudi license is issued to a woman.”
The BBC states: “Manal al-Sharif, one of the organisers of Women2Drive, says they have been contacted by 1,023 women who want to drive – and by 192 women from across the country who are willing to teach them. They are now looking to recruit volunteers. “Women want to drive and they are taking actual steps towards that,” said Ms Sharif.”
Hilary Clinton has come out in support of the right of Saudi women to protest for and win their rights to drive.
“July 26, 2011
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Dear King Abdullah:
As women members of the United States Senate, we write in support of the increasing number of Saudi women and men calling for the removal of the driving ban on women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As you know, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world with such a ban on women driving, and maintaining such a restriction stands in stark contrast with the commitments your government has made to promote the rights of Saudi women.
We appreciate that the government of Saudi Arabia has taken steps to advance women’s rights. For example, we were pleased to see the appointment of the first woman deputy minister in Saudi Arabia and the establishment of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology—the only university in Saudi Arabia that allows women to study alongside men and where women are allowed to drive motor vehicles on campus. These are important steps, but more must be done and lifting the driving ban would be a critical step forward.
In June 2009, the government of Saudi Arabia accepted the majority of the recommendations put forward by the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, including to “[a]bolish all legislation, measures and practices that discriminate against women… In particular, to abolish legislation and practices which prevent women from participating fully in society on an equal basis with men, including… limitations on freedom of movement, the prohibition on women driving and restricted access by women to work, public places and commercial facilities.”
Given this commitment, we strongly believe it is time to abolish the prohibition on women driving once and for all, especially in light of Saudi Arabia’s role as a newly elected member of the board of UN Women—an entity dedicated to achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women worldwide.
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.” And according to the Arab Charter on Human Rights which Saudi Arabia ratified in April 2009, “Every individual residing within the territory of a State shall have the right to liberty of movement.” The prohibition on women driving motor vehicles, even in cases of emergency, makes it impossible for citizens to exercise a basic human right.
We strongly urge you to reconsider this ban and take an important step toward affording Saudi women the rights they deserve.
Thank you for your consideration.
Barbara Boxer United States Senator
Mary L. Landrieu United States Senator
Dianne Feinstein United States Senator
Patty Murray United States Senator
Olympia Snowe United States Senator
Claire McCaskill United States Senator
Barbara Mikulski United States Senator
Jeanne Shaheen United States Senator
Maria Cantwell United States Senator
Kirsten Gillibrand United States Senator
Debbie Stabenow United States Senator
Amy Klobuchar United States Senator
Kay Hagan United States Senator
Susan Collins United States Senator”
Thank you to the esteemed Female Members of the Senate who support the rights of Saudi Women to drive like human beings, not objects waiting to be picked up. And Thank you to our Saudi Sisters for showing us the bravery and persistence of women who drive under threat of arrest. Keep it up! You are winning! We support you!