Originally posted on Feministing
In an unintentionally viral video, a Saudi Arabian historian justified his nation’s ban against women drivers by arguing that it protects them from roadside rape.
Saudi Arabia’s prohibition on women driving instituted in 1990, has been defied several times in recent years by women who have filmed themselves driving in protest. The government has responded with a crackdown, arresting women who break the law and even sending two women to a the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh which handles terrorism cases.
But don’t worry. There’s a good reason for this ban.
In a recent TV interview, historian Saleh Al-Saadoon claimed that the reason women are allowed to drive in Europe, America and parts of the Arab world is because women there don’t care about getting raped if their car breaks down: “They don’t care if they are raped on the roadside, but we do,” Al-Saadoon said on Saudi Rotana Khalijiyya TV.
The understandably incredulous host, who isn’t named, responds by saying, “Hold on. Who told you they don’t care about getting raped on the roadside?” To which Al-Saadoon replies, “In our case, however, the problem is of a social and religious nature.” When the host pointed out that the two other guests were shocked by the historian’s comments, he said, “They should listen to me and get used to what society thinks, if they are really so out of touch with it.”
Never fear — the women of Saudi Arabia may not be allowed to drive, but they are waited on by a gaggle of male relatives who have nothing to do but serve them: “Saudi women are driven around by their husbands, sons and brothers,”Al-Saadoon explained. “Everybody is at their service. They are like queens. A queen without a chauffeur has the honor of being driven around by her husband, brother, son and nephews. They are at the ready when she gestures with her hands.”
The host then wondered about the risk of being raped by these drivers, asking, “You are afraid that a woman might be raped by the roadside by soldiers, but you are not afraid that she might be raped by her chauffeur?”
“Of course, I am,” replied the concerned historian. And then he dropped a radical policy recommendation that could forever change the transportation system of Saudi Arabia: “There is a solution but the government officials and clerics refuse to hear of it. The solution is to bring female foreign chauffeurs to drive our wives.” No, he didn’t! He then asked the host, “Are you with me on this?”
Her response was a face palm, followed by laughter.
So, to summarize: the solution is to bring in foreign female drivers who may very well get raped on the side of the road if their car breaks down. But it’s all good, because it’s no big deal for them.