Thursday, June 16, 2011

Saudi Women June 17 Driving Guidelines (Women2Drive): If you are going to do it, drive safely!

While driving safely in other countries means things like drive defensively (assume the other driver is an idiot, and be prepared), leave a safe stopping distance between cars dependent on speed, and remember to pump the brakes, never brake hard in slippery conditions, in Saudi Arabia the upcoming planned women's driving movement, starting Friday June 17 has different safety guidelines, or additional ones, in light of Saudi prohibitions (law, custom, fatwa) against women driving.

It is important for others, especially those who are Saudi-based, to remember that the Saudi women organizers have asked that non-Saudi women refrain from participating by driving. I see that as a safety issue as well. It would feed opposition arguments and ire, as well as cloud the meaning and purpose of the action, if non-Saudis and particularly Westerners were to be engaged in driving too. One can be supportive in other ways.

Some Saudi women have decided to make driving a highly visible statement of their demands for reform for women in Saudi society. I respect their decision, and also the decision of those who put their energies elsewhere, or deem that at this conjuncture it is not safe for them to participate in Women2Drive June 17.

For those who will be driving, the safety guidelines below are from Sabria Jawhar's post Saudi Women June 17 Driving Guidelines on her blog, Sabria's Out of the Box. Those offering support in other ways should also be aware of these guidelines.

Saudi women planning to drive on June 17 should observe the following guidelines for their safety:

1) Islamic dress code

2) There won’t be any gatherings. Go out only to run important errands, visit the hospital, drop kids off at school, etc.

3) It is encouraged that you videotape the event and upload it on Youtube.

4) Drive within city limits only.

5) To reaffirm our patriotism, fly the Saudi flag and lift up a photo of Abu Mit’ib (the King).

6) No need to be scared. If the police arrest you, you’ll only be required to sign on a pledge.

7) It is preferred that whoever plans on driving to have an international driver’s license.

8) It is better if a male accompanies you to protect you and to guarantee your safety (since the ball would just be starting to roll).

9) Avoid driving into any empty plots or deserted or faraway areas because that might pose some danger to you.

10) Driving is not scheduled for one day only. Saudi women are starting Friday but will continue to take to their cars beyond that date until a royal decree is issued.

11) Any woman who fails to comply is responsible for any possible consequences.

12) Ensure notifying family and friends of your intentions to drive (in case you go missing they’ll have an idea how to act).

13) If you have a phone with internet connection, follow WOMEN2DRIVE on Facebook and Twitter.

I hope all those who choose to drive have a safe experience!

Women2Drive on Facebook, and #women2drive on Twitter. Real Time results for Women2Drive via Google are another way to follow events and coverage of them.


Wendy said...

Good luck to them!!!

coolred38 said...

Yes, good luck to them. I cant help but wonder at the number of car accidents that will result in this due to the fact that Saudi men are not shy about harrassing women who are sitting in the back seat of cars driven by men, who gain quick experience on how to out manuever them....but these women driving will not have this experience. I hope this is not the case.

Chiara said...

Wendy and Coolred--thanks for your comments. I wish them luck too. We shall know shortly how much participation/attention this first day of a longer movement garners, and what the reactions will be. I hope they all stay safe in all senses. Thanks again for your comments!

Marahm said...

I do not understand the encouragement to film videos and post them to YouTube. The Saudi women have asked non-Saudi women not to involve themselves, yet by posting videos to YouTube, the Saudis not only involve non-Saudis, but inflame the males who might otherwise look the other way.

When I arrived in Saudi Arabia, I was told, "You can do anything you want in the Kingdom; just don't flaunt it." That advice served me well for many years, and I expect it would serve women drivers well, too.

Usman said...

While driving, don't forget to buzz a horn

Majed said...

No wonder that 17th June was a sounding failure, as it was supposed to be pure and original Saudi sunrise, without any participation of Alien elements (foreigners)in it.

They did not want any foreigner participation,based on safety grounds,but actually because Saudis are racist just like their counter parts in the gulf that is a fact, actually all Arabs become racist when their bellies start walking ahead of them and their wallet become tight with money,I notice that one can see Arabs in their best and sweetest forms when they are living in poverty and destitution, I swore not wear the Thoubs again in my life, because they dealt fairly with me when in it, I do not want the respect that comes with a peace of garment, I am sure that non of the white foreigners have noticed this, because these Arabs take for granted that Whites are higher race, that is why the whites enjoy so many privileges here,higher races my foot,only the race that respect human being is the highest race.

If they really wanted 17th June to be solely their achievement without any foreigners having anything to do with it ,then why on earth would 10000 supporters of the driving cause ask Clinton in an open letter to support them and to apply some pressure (show muscles) to make it happen,and in the mean while they want to play the patriot role and fly the Saudi flag and carry King Abdullah Photos, what they really are? patriots or a fifth column, they have to decide that first,SHOW MUSCLE they muscle to whom ? ,what the hell happened to these Arabs,

Chiara said...

Marahm--Thanks for your comment. I had meant to publish a post exploring more of the paradoxes and complexities of general movement for women to drive in Saudi, but I wasn't able to do so until too close to this particular event. I will do so shortly, as I think it is part of being supportive of the general endeavour without buying into some of the rhetoric I believe ultimately hinders the move towards greater choices for Saudi women.

In this instance, I think the video uploading was part of proving that it did happen, and also maybe a part of safety. After the arrest of Manal Al-Sharif there was sufficient international attention to make further mistreatments too public perhaps.

Indeed, generally one might say that norms of public vs private are quite different in non-American cultures, including Arab and Saudi ones.

Thanks again for your comment!

Chiara said...

Usman--Welcome back! I thought that form of driving was typically Italian! :D

Majed-thanks for your comment, though you seem extra angry at Saudis in this one! I think there is a difference between having non-Saudi women drive in Saudi on the day, and gaining international support to press for reform. Using international pressure can backfire too. In the specific instance of Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State she is much less free to support feminist causes than she was as First Lady, and that she has announced she will be when her term ends in 2012.

Thanks again for your comment, especially the substantive parts of it!

Majed said...

Chiara do not you think that non Saudi women also suffer the consequences of driving ban too in Saudi Arabia,we agree it is all women 's right to drive,right, so why Saudi women only should have the right to ask and cry for it.

while Saudi women when they go to
other countries they enjoy that right and brag about having done so when they come back,and they also have the right to demonstrate against laws of those countries too,and those same women ask foreign women not to participate, the government did not say that, that is very strange.
though I am 100% sure that even if they did not say that foreigners would not have participated.

Chiara,I usually a die-hard in supporting and defending Arabs against all those who might say anything against them,and I always project what microscopic good things they have,so they are seen large and clear, I also naturally neglect offence committed by people, based on that they are just people,who make mistakes.

But, I had seen just before writing my fiery comment, a couple of thing that were too much and made me fly off the handle and re-dig an abundance of holes I have been covering : a very good looking young Saudi couple as if they were angels coming out of a Hypermarket, at the exit door they met with a Bengali laborer pushing through the same door a very long train of shopping carts that he gathered from the parking lot,obviously it was difficult to stop,though nothing even brushed against them, you can not imagine the insults and abuses he had to take for that, just because he was a poor guy, and you can not imagine how important like a peacock the man felt for showing off how a tough guy he was to his wife, who in turn did not move a lip in humanity as women are supposed to be more sensitive and humane.

In another incidence a young Saudi Man Bombarding abuses and insults like himar,kalb and haiwan etc on a 65 or more years old African man the age of his father, whose car of the same age broke down at the traffic signal and that young man had to wait a little until he could overtake him with his brand new and luxurious car, I think less fortunate people in any aspect ought to have more right to our respect and friendliness than those who can demand and impose their respect on us.


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