It was once a just claim that many women experienced disenfranchisement at the institutional level. These days, for the greatest part, the issues have been handled and such claims are no longer tenable. “Men have all the power,” a very vague and hand-waving proposition, supported by the fallacious argument of numeric parity is dispelled.
That women, in most areas of the world, but most notably in the Western World, have more legal rights than men is an empirically measurable fact. In order to support the narrative of class persecution against women, Feminists have had to search far and wide, globally in fact, for instances where men have legal rights that women do not.
As of the time of this writing, Saudi Arabia is the last bastion of point-able persecution. Two claims are typically made:
1. Women in Saudi Arabia cannot vote.
Counter-argument: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. None can vote. Not women, not men.
2. Women in Saudi Arabia are not legally permitted to drive.
Counter-argument: Women in Saudi Arabia are not permitted to drive in some regions. This social ban is not enforced in rural areas. The more correct claim would be that women in some urban centres of Saudi Arabia are not permitted drive.
The problem, according to the narrator in this video is not political, and surprisingly to me, not even religious, but one of social mores.
Under Saudi law, all females must have a male guardian, typically a father, brother or husband (a mahram). Girls and women are forbidden from traveling, conducting official business, or undergoing certain medical procedures without permission from their male guardians.
The guardian has duties to, and rights over, the woman in many aspects of civic life. A United Nations Special Rapporteur report states that
“legal guardianship of women by a male, is practised in varying degrees and encompasses major aspects of women’s lives. The system is said to emanate from social conventions, including the importance of protecting women, and from religious precepts on travel and marriage, although these requirements were arguably confined to particular situations.”
The social ban on women’s driving in certain areas of Saudi Arabia is based on the expectation that men, who bear the duties of guardianship will take care of these needs for her.
As is often the case, the laws or rules that are probably based on good intentions by some fail to keep up with the changes of of the world.
I wish the local activists much success in their efforts to redress this situation. It is high time that Saudi men stop taking responsibility for women, and for Saudi women to enjoy the benefits and owe the duties to themselves and society that any person should.
Should you disagree, or believe yourself to be in possession of verifiable facts to the contrary, I welcome your thoughtful feedback.