Saudi Women Can Vote, but Not Drive to the Polls

Women's rights in Saudi?

“We refuse to marginalize the role of women in Saudi society in every field of work.”

Those were the words of King Abdullah after the Saudi monarch made the historic decision to allow women the right to vote and serve on the Shoura Council, his advisory body. The decision is certainly a big one, but the shine was immediately removed when Shaima Ghassaniya was sentenced to 10 lashes for driving. The hypocrisy would certainly be hilarious if it didn’t carry such drastic consequences for the women of Saudi Arabia.

Some thoughts:

  • “Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Riyadh-based activist, said the expansion of the voting franchise masks a refusal by Saudi rulers to grant substantial power to the population.” That quotation from the above article reminds me of the Jadaliyya article entitled “Will the Gulf Countries Escape the Revolutionary Fires?” Take a look, it is a good one.
  • Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, was ranked the least democratic country in the Middle East in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2010 Democracy Index. An absolute monarchy, it has been ruled by six kings since it was established in 1932.” Really?
  • Driving should really be left to these people…
Photo from American Bedu

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