For law-abiding citizens, the right to drive a vehicle is one we Americans take for granted. Since 1990, however, Saudi Arabia has been the only country in the world in which women have been denied this basic freedom. According to PolicyMic.com, the ban on women drivers “originated with a fatwa, a formal legal opinion, and is not encoded in law.” Factors contributing to the ban include the need for women to uncover their faces during driving, the possibility that driving would lead women to leave their homes more often, the likelihood of more interaction with non-related males, and the overcrowding of streets, which may then deny men of the ease of driving. All these factors are highly discriminatory of women and violate The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13, which declares that, “everyone has the right to freedom of movement.
“As reported in an October 26, 2013, article in The New York Times, women who took up the fight to regain the right to drive were harassed by hacking into activist websites and leaving threatening messages on cell phones. But the threats did not deter women. In fact, dozens of women took to the roads and even posted online videos of themselves driving. One of the women involved in this campaign is 34-year-old Manal al-Sharif. Newsweek reported in its Nov. 7, 2013, issue that “A few days after she drove, the religious police detained al-Sharif for six hours, but the video she posted had already received 600,000 hits on YouTube. As the news spread, some women applauded al-Sharif, but others were appalled.
“Consequently, according to an October 28th article on CNN.com, women involved in the driving campaign are fearing repercussions from their actions, one woman stating, “I don’t know for sure if it is secret police or just men trying to harass us because we want the right to drive, but they are trying to intimidate us.”Instances of human rights violations, such as Saudi Arabia’s ban on women drivers and so many worse issues, are occurring all over the globe. And though we enjoy our human rights in America, as global citizens we have the responsibility to support the freedom of all individuals throughout our globe. One action step Americans can take to support our international neighbors who are enduring these human rights violations is to contact their local representatives, as well as President Obama, to urge them to address Saudi Arabia’s pervasive human rights violations, including its ban on women drivers. Please make yourself aware of these human rights issues and, as well-informed global citizen who can change the world for the better, contact your congressmen and senators to urge them to call for humane action from Saudi Arabia .