Woman Jailed For Driving A Car In Saudi Arabia Speaks
A women’s rights activist who was jailed after she bravely defied Saudi Arabia’s female driving ban has opened up about the ordeal.
The lady, identified as Manal Al-Sharif, who now lives in Sydney, spent nine days behind bars after being charged with ‘driving while female’ after she uploaded a YouTube video of herself travelling through the streets of Khobar in May 2011.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that forbids women from driving – but the ban did not deter the now 38-year-old from taking back control over her life.
‘I was jailed because I challenged the ban,’
‘I lost custody of my son, my job and my home but I just have to accept the consequences otherwise women don’t move forward.
‘I’ve done a lot of things in my life I regret but I didn’t choose to be arrested for driving. I was tired of accepting these awkward rules so I wanted to prove a point.
‘When I was sitting in prison, the only regret I had was not being with my son at the time when he was in hospital.’
‘History repeated itself,’
‘I just couldn’t believe the charges laid against me. I was charged with “driving while female”. I was put in jail with criminals.
‘I remember the prison guard asking me why I was there. She heard about the movement but she just couldn’t believe they put me in jail for driving.‘When I was in jail, I started to think that it happened for a reason and it really opened up eyes. The good news is the movement started a dialect.’‘The video was trending inside Saudi Arabia,’
‘I was getting phone calls, my family was receiving death threats and more girls were being discouraged to go out.
‘Driving a car as a woman, you really stir the whole country. I was called a w**** and people accused me of corrupting Muslims… They called me all kinds of names.
‘People were calling me crazy and saying I should be locked up in a mental hospital.’
‘It doesn’t matter if you’re a highly educated woman, you still need a male guardian to give you permission to do things,’
‘The main challenge is women are treated like minors. Once you reach 18, you own your life, no one should own your life. But in Saudi Arabia, [adult] women are still considered as a minor.‘I had to go to my father to get my passport.’‘That’s why we can’t drive because we need male guidance to do anything on our behalf,’
‘I come from a very private society where we live in closed windows, high walls and women are covered up. It’s very difficult for girls and women in Saudi Arabia to do anything without the permission from a male guardian.’