Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Saudi Women Driving: Public Naming and Shaming along with the Arresting, Fining, and Flogging

Michael Bou-Nacklie/Michael Bou-Nacklie
A Saudi woman fastens her seat belt before driving in Jeddah, western Saudi Arabia. From the excellent article by Ahmed Al-Omran, "Saudi Woman Sentenced To Lashes After Defying Driving Ban".

A friend emailed a link to the article below pointing out that the persons charged were named in full, whereas usually Saudi criminals or alleged criminals are not named in Saudi print media--except for terrorists, in my experience. Others have observed that non-Saudis living in Saudi usually are named. I was struck that this public naming in full puts Saudi women who drive in a special category of persona non grata which overrides their nationality and non-terrorist activity--or is the idea of Saudi women driving that terrorizing to some?

A Saudi woman drives a car as part of a campaign to defy Saudi Arabia's ban on women driving, in Riyadh. (AP). From the succinct, effective article, "Saudi woman sentenced to 10 lashes for driving".

Saudi woman driver vows to appeal flogging sentence
Published: Sep 28, 2011 02:23 Updated: Sep 28, 2011 02:23

JEDDAH: A court in Jeddah on Tuesday sentenced a Saudi woman who flouted a driving ban to 10 lashes.

The driver, identified as Shayma Jastaniah, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah streets. Two other women are scheduled to appear in court later this year on similar charges.

Arab News contacted Shayma, who expressed her dismay at the sentence. “I am still in shock and I cannot think straight because of what I have had to go through. I will appeal the sentence.”

She told Arab News that she drove only once and it was before high-profile campaigner for women driving Manal Al-Sharif was caught. Shayma holds an international driving license.

Shayma's lawyer Adnan Al-Saleh told Arab News that his client was waiting for a fair and just decision on women driving.

He said women driving is not considered in any way a criminal charge in Saudi law or Islamic teachings.

“This is not an issue related to morals or custom nor is it a crime that requires punishment. The courts now consider any woman driving a car without a Saudi driving license to be committing a crime punishable by lashes. It means that any woman caught driving in the future will suffer the same punishment, and maybe even prison,” he said.

“In this situation, the woman driver has the right to appeal the case and submit her objections because this is an initial sentence. The case will then be transferred to the court of appeals.”

He said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah gave the green light to women to participate in the Shoura Council and vote and run for the municipal elections, yet the Saudi courts were punishing women for driving.

“How can she be allowed to lead a nation when she is not allowed to drive?” added Al-Saleh.

He said Shayma received two punishments. The first was a fine because she drove without a Saudi driving license. The second was lashes.

“Why was she given two punishments? On what basis, after she paid the fine, can you then whip her? Is it because she is a woman? What if she was a man? Why can’t men be transferred to court and get lashed? What is the problem with woman driving?” he questioned. “She did not smuggle drugs, and she did not cause an accident.”

Zaki Safar, founder of the “Saudi Men For Women Driving” campaign, said ultra conservative elements in society were not happy with the king's new directive giving women more political power.

He added that they have no qualms about being vociferous when voicing these sentiments.

Safar said it is otherwise difficult to explain the decision to try fellow woman driver Najla Hariri as well as the conviction of Shayma.

Hariri, who flouted a ban on women driving, is to stand trial after the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution in Jeddah decided to prosecute her. She drove her car more than once to support the “Women2Drive” and “My Right2Dignity” campaigns and was detained for driving on Aug. 24. She was referred to a Jeddah court. The first hearing will be held next month.


Later, I remembered that women activists are also named in full, in Saudi print. Also perceived as that terrorizing by some?

Related Posts:
Saudi Women Driving Garners Attention; Saudi Women's Education Brings Substantive Change--Including to Driving
On Women Driving, in the West and Saudi; Other Parameters of Women's Quality of Life; Hope for Change
Saudi Women June 17 Driving Guidelines (Women2Drive): If you are going to do it, drive safely!

Your comments, thoughts, impressions?

Saudi women waiting for their drivers outside a shopping mall in Riyadh. From the informative article, "Saudi Woman Sentenced To Lashes For Driving". (AFP PHOTO/FAYEZ NURELDINE)


Wendy said...

What is there to say here. This is stone age mentality showing a complete lack of morals or humanity. It is physical and mental abuse, abuse of power, a slap in the face to the king in many ways but it also shows the royal family for who they are ... extremely wealthy immoral people who sold out the citizens of their country to religious fundamentalist creatures (many of whom show signs of being perverts) so they could retain their wealth. Is that too harsh???

Chiara said...

Wendy--Thanks for your comment. I think there is a harshness to it, in part because of the frustration we all feel for a flogging, and one over what is essentially a traffic violation (technically, driving without a Saudi issued license--which won't be issued to a woman). Yet there are broader issues as you point out. I think the most salient of these is the statement it makes from the more conservative element of Saudi society to the King himself. Hopefully, the sentence which is being appealed will not be applied. Still the broader message is there in giving the sentence.

Governing powers or those who wish to govern make any number of alliances they then more or less ruefully are beholden to. In that, I don't see Saudi as unique, despite the extreme conservatism of some powerful parts not only of the religious establishment but of Saudi society itself.

Perversion is difficult to define rigorously but easy to imply or about which to start rumours about--not by you, but in society generally. Remember when Trudeau was rumoured to be homosexual? with all sorts of "they say" and "everyone in the gay community knows it"? Turns out it was all political propaganda. Also, at least according to current psychiatric diagnostic norms, homosexuality isn't a perversion, so doubly un-perverted--even if he did wear a rose and twirl.

Thanks again for your comment!

coolred38 said...

Naming and shaming is meant to include her whole family...since the belief is that if "you shame yourself you shame your family" is very strong there.

Possibly they are hoping that male members of her family punish her or stop her from future driving endeavors thus leaving the responsibility of her to her family and therefore the govt and court system wouldnt have to get involved...keeping their hands clean so to speak.

Of course they have to get the message across first that naming and shaming will apply to all women who dare to cross that line in such a way. IMO

Wendy said...

Perversion does not have to have a sexual connotation. Wanting to flog or harm a person in my opinion is a perversion. If I want to take it to a sexual connotation I could site many examples of laws coming down (fatwas) that seem to be made because of some sort of deviant perversion amongst these old boys and I often think that they get a sexual kick from some of their dictates, laws, etc.

Definition of PERVERSION
: the action of perverting : the condition of being perverted
: a perverted form; especially : an aberrant sexual practice or interest especially when habitual
See perversion defined for English-language learners »
See perversion defined for kids »
Examples of PERVERSION

1. They fought against perversion of the health-care system.

abu abdullah said...

Alhumdulillah His Highness King Abdullah, revoked the lashing sentence today.

It easy to change the law but difficult to change the mindset of the people, that's the challenge here.

The last thing we don't want is that by allowing the women to drive, we would end up giving more fodder for the extremists to use this as a casus belli for their evil deeds.

Though it is a tough call and gross injustice inflicted upon women, it has to be handled delicately.

Susanne said...

Does anyone know why they revoked the sentence? I'm glad they did, but wonder if they saw the bad press they were getting and decided it wasn't worth it.

Coolred makes a good point. By shaming the women - who hold the family honor - they are hoping other women wont' get such crazy ideas about driving a car!

Wendy said...

An interesting opinion essay on Al Jazeera about the price of oppressing women.


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