A Saudi woman has been sentenced to be lashed 10 times with a whip for defying the kingdom's prohibition on female drivers, the first time a legal punishment has been handed down for a violation of the longtime ban in the ultraconservative Muslim nation.
Normally, police just stop female drivers, question them and let them go after they sign a pledge not to drive again. But dozens of women have continued to take to the roads since June in a campaign to break the taboo.
Making Tuesday's sentence all the more upsetting to activists is that it came just two days after King Abdullah promised to protect women's rights and decreed that women would be allowed to participate in municipal elections in 2015. Abdullah also promised to appoint women to a currently all-male advisory body known as the Shura Council.
The mixed signals highlight the challenge for Abdullah, known as a reformer, in pushing gently for change without antagonizing the powerful clergy and a conservative segment of the population.
Abdullah said he had the backing of the official clerical council. But activists saw Tuesday's sentencing as a retaliation of sorts from the hard-line Saudi religious establishment that controls the courts and oversees the intrusive religious police.
"Our king doesn't deserve that," said Sohila Zein el-Abydeen, a prominent female member of the governmental National Society for Human Rights. She burst into tears in a phone interview and said, "The verdict is shocking to me, but we were expecting this kind of reaction."
The driver, Shaima Jastaina, in her 30s, was found guilty of driving without permission, activist Samar Badawi said. The punishment is usually carried out within a month. It was not possible to reach Jastaina, but Badawi, in touch with Jastaina's family, said she appealed the verdict.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women — both Saudi and foreign — from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.
Saudi Arabian clerics, The Canadian Press 61 Comments
[10/1/2011 5:26:21 AM]
Fundie Index: 76
Submitted By: Brendan Rizzo
1 2 3
Atomic Flamethrowing Vagina
I hate everyone.
10/1/2011 6:21:10 AM
This is your brain on religion.
10/1/2011 6:24:34 AM
> Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women from driving.
Yeah, think about it: North Koreans have more freedoms. They may execute people for driving on the party-officials reserved lane, but at least gender doesn't matter.
10/1/2011 6:34:12 AM
I simply don't understand. What is so sinful about driving a car? Women can drive just about everywhere else, and society has conspicuously failed to collapse.
I'd like to nominate Saudi Arabia for the 'Most Insecure Men In The World' award.
10/1/2011 6:39:04 AM
I seriously hope that country's oil reserves dry up in my lifetime, so I can see the look on their faces when the rest of the world stops kissing their ass. They do shit like this because they can.
10/1/2011 6:40:41 AM
Yeah, they won't allow women to drive. But this
? Totally acceptable.
10/1/2011 6:40:56 AM
@ Number 6
It's not that women are driving cars. It's that while they're doing it their vaginas are unchaperoned.
10/1/2011 7:37:46 AM
Y'know, when I heard that Abdullah was going to go easy on women, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop....
...and I was correct, the shoe dropped with a resounding thud.
To his credit, it seems Abdullah was not in on the lashing thing & that it was done behind his back.
That said, you can't trust any guy in a macho idiot country with a macho idiot culture.
I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, though.
10/1/2011 7:47:43 AM
I don't want to live on this planet anymore.
10/1/2011 7:50:00 AM
This sucks. But the fact that they will be allowed to vote in 2015 for the first time gives me hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel for these poor women.
Slow progress is still progress.
10/1/2011 7:53:19 AM
Raised by Horses
'Wrong side of history' mean anything to these theocrats?
10/1/2011 7:56:27 AM
Grats King while you try and be all nice about the change you want the people who's power you threaten are going around doing things that are on the opposite side of the coin just to spite you. Go out there and gain some control of the clergy, first step is to throw this whipping punishment right out the door and let the woman go free.
Change is hard and doing it slowly allows people to screw it up. Do it fast and hard and by the time people work out they should be upset it will be too late.
10/1/2011 8:34:27 AM
It's bad enough that they have stupid, repressive, bronze-age laws like this. But why the fuck does it always have to be corporal punishment with these guys? Are they just really vicious and bloodthirsty?
Let me guess: too many women are disallowed bank accounts or property for fines to be practical, and imprisoning women is not acceptable because a) it would deny their male owners access to them, and b) if you're a saudi citizen and female, you're basically already supposed to be a prisoner. And, of course, punishing a male "guardian" for the actions of a woman under his control is unthinkable. Am I close to the mark with any of this, you bloody animals?
10/1/2011 8:44:25 AM
And then they wonder why people don't take them seriously.
10/1/2011 8:49:03 AM
My tax dollars go towards propping up this regime... I want my money back
10/1/2011 8:50:08 AM
Yes, but the King commuted the sentence so they're not all bat shit crazy.
On the other hand, have you seen the way some women drive? Maybe they have the right idea? (JOKING, only joking).
10/1/2011 9:20:36 AM
Ah, Saudi Arabia. Worst country in the world. I say bomb the place to ashes.
Okay, I jest!
10/1/2011 9:27:38 AM
I don't want to be human anymore.
10/1/2011 9:29:11 AM
We love you too, Saudi Arabia! You are admired by many Americans, esp. presidents!
Look at these two cute boyfriends:
10/1/2011 10:26:32 AM
Percy Q. Shunn
10/1/2011 10:41:05 AM
Can they run out of exploitable resources so we can go back to disregarding them and laughing a bit as the entire place falls apart?
Better still, we could wake up and drop them now, resources or not. I don't expect this one to actually happen though, so here's hoping on number one.
10/1/2011 11:43:54 AM
Let's hope she becomes Saudi Arabia's version of Rosa Parks.
10/1/2011 11:45:41 AM
I heard about this on the radio.
My heart hurts for this woman. I can't drive, but for me it's an anxiety issue. This woman and others like her can drive just fine, if only people would quit being dicks about it.
10/1/2011 11:45:45 AM
Mah, the way I see it, I think the best thing is to try to use baby steps. Whenever there is a big opposition it is best to try to slowly change the general mentality, by targeting children/teens/young adults. They are going to take the place of the old men. And those people, my friend, are going to chance a country.
Moreover, if the king tried to be too liberal he could be incapacitated. That would be much worse than having to wait. Especially if the extremists were to put someone who sympathizes with them.
10/1/2011 11:54:39 AM
That comment was to address 1336784.
10/1/2011 11:55:48 AM
1 2 3