16 Jun 2011

Saudi Women Ready To Defy Driving Ban, Fueled by Social Media



Saudi Arabian women plan to start driving their cars Friday, one month after Manal al-Sherif — a key figure in a social media campaign against a ban on female drivers — was arrested when she posted a YouTube video of herself driving around the city of Khobar.
The mass driving campaign is the result of an online movement that began around two months ago, when Saudi women’s rights activists called for the country’s women to start driving their own cars on June 17.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prevents women from driving. Though there is no written law on the matter, religious rulings are enforced by the police, which has the same effect as a ban. Women are forced to rely on live-in drivers or male relatives for transportation.
Activists pushed the movement via Facebook, Twitter and other online outlets before some of those accounts were shut down. And al-Sherif was arrested and jailed after her YouTube video (pictured above) hit the web. Al-Sherif was eventually released from a women’s prison after nine days, pledging she would no longer drive nor take part in the Women2Drive initiative.
But online support for the campaign has lived on through copies of earlier Facebook groups. And people in other parts of the world have also taken up the cause. The Honk for Saudi Women viral campaign is one example, featuring videos of women and men from around the world, honking their horns in support of Saudi women who will drive on June 17. The campaign also has a petition on online activism platform Change.org, asking Oprah to make a similar video in a show of support.

Via: Mashable

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