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.

And yesterday 14 Female US Senators sent a letter to Saudi King Abdullah. Here is that letter:

“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.

Sincerely,

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”

———————————————————————————————————

*The three Senators that did not sign to support the rights of Saudi Women: Republican Lisa Murkhowski, Alaska. Republican Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire. Republican Kay Baily Hutchinson, Texas.

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!

9 Responses to “82% of Female US Senators Sign Letter to Saudi King: Let Women Drive”


  1. The men in power will find it hard to budge on this because if it’s proven that they got THIS wrong then it opens a can of worms. It will show that they might have got a whole lot of other things about Islam wrong too.
    I watched an interview with a Saudi woman saying women in Mohammed’s time would ride horses alongside him and isn’t today’s car just a modern day version of a horse? The mullah next to her was just sort of nodding but not agreeing.


  2. Wow, I am cheering the Saudi women on from the sidelines, good on them!

    As for the three female senator abstainers = sockpuppets. They are obviously useless as female senators looking after women’s rights.

    The US has 17% female senators, the UK has around 19% female MPs (woohoo, we iz so much more liberated than the US!) /snark. Considering females make up 51% of the population, we are grossly under-represented in government everywhere (except the odd place like Sweden I think).

    It is about time that the focus for/on our governements was to reach 51% representation in parliament/government. The male majority governments have a poor track record for looking after women’s rights.

  3. Chonky Says:

    ” Breck Girl ” aka Kay Hutchinson has not led or moved out of the way for FAABs rights and causes in for what seems an eternity.

    Man oh man do I miss Molly Ivins!

    pssst Miss Gallus the Magnificant, por favor,
    can you find a decent video of a Fiztwilliam segment from TBGSS?
    On YouTube, only a grainy image screen video was easily accessible and on LOGO, it seems you have to watch full episodes.

    Methinks some FABs would soilently enjoy this! Thanks!

  4. pmsrhino Says:

    Uuuuuuugh, Texas. Why do you make me so sad to live here? :c

    And, really, when it comes to women having the right to DRIVE (really, how is that not considered a right?) I’m giving no one a pat on the back for 87% support. I’m incredibly saddened that it isn’t 100 fucking percent. Does that mean 13 of our US senators would be totally okay if women in the US had their right to drive revoked? Probably the same people who think that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote. The hell could their reasons be for not signing on with this letter? What kind of reasons could one give for denying women the right to move freely about so they could do things like, say, get to the hospital themselves when they’re dying? They have to have reasons, right, even if they’re stupid reasons?

    Did the house have any vote on this at all? Do we have any numbers for them?

  5. yttik Says:

    Three women did not sign, but I guess we could also say 100% of our male senators did not sign either. Naturally women will tend to focus our disgust towards those 3 women rather than the 83 males who can’t be bothered to care at all.

    I guess another way to look at it would be to say that when we elect women, about 3 out of every 17 are going to let us down. When we elect men, well you’d be lucky if you could find one out of 83 who has any awareness or desire to care at all.

  6. KatieS Says:

    I’m cheering for the Saudi women.

    Yes, sockpuppets. They are my sisters, but my badly misguided sisters, like the irl sisters who are on some serious drugs and will hurt you for money if need be. You care what happens to them, but mainly need them to change what they do. You might not be able to help them except by kicking them out of your life and letting them hit rock bottom. Give them support when they are in recovery or take care of their kids when they abandon them. It’s not a pretty picture. I’d like to see a bunch of women asking them why they did this and telling them they need to change their tune for themselves and women. Or kick them out and vote in some non-sockpuppets.

  7. rebel13 Says:

    I would agree with you except we have such freakin’ crackpots like Palin and Bachmann to choose from. It’s some kind of evil co-opting plot that the Rethuglicans keep fronting women — I guess they think we’ll all fall for the idea that just having a woman in leadership makes a difference. Progressive women please!

  8. Luckynkl Says:

    Sock puppets indeed. Visually, we see oodles of women and minorities running for office. What we don’t see are the powerful men behind the curtain pulling their strings. Is it really any different than how bosses hide behind secretaries? Secretaries serve as the spokesperson for the boss and take all the heat for him, but she is not the one with the power or makes the rules.

    What it tells us is that political office is no longer where the power is. To figure out where it is, all one need really do is figure out where women are minorities are all but non-existent. So where is it? That’s an easy one. Corporations. 94% of corporations are run by white males. The other 6% are women and minorities COMBINED. **shrug** Politicians are only as good as the corporations who own them.


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