Saudi cleric says women who drive risk damaging their ovaries

A CONSERVATIVE Saudi Arabian cleric has said women who drive risk damaging their ovaries and bearing children with clinical problems, countering activists who are trying to end the Islamic kingdom’s male-only driving rules.

A campaign calling for women to defy the ban in a protest drive on October 26 has spread rapidly online over the past week and gained support from some prominent women activists. On Sunday, the campaign’s website was blocked inside the kingdom.

In an interview published on the website, Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan said women aiming to overturn the ban on driving should put “reason ahead of their hearts, emotions and passions”.

His comments reflect the extent of opposition to women driving among some conservatives in Saudi Arabia.

“If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards,” he told Sabq.

“That is why we find those who regularly drive have children with clinical problems of varying degrees,” he said.

He did not cite specific medical studies to support his arguments.

The ban on women driving is not backed by a specific law, but only men are granted driving licenses. Women can be fined for driving without a license but have also been detained and put on trial in the past on charges of political protest.


24 thoughts on “Saudi cleric says women who drive risk damaging their ovaries

      • Actually Paul,

        I was joking, because the above article is stupid. Who can give a sensible comment to such? Can you? Women are forbidden to drive in Saudi. Why?

        Does this mean that women living without male relatives who can chauffeur them around are disadvantaged? I would say so. And, are women allowed to be seen in public on their own, catch a bus and go shopping on their own in Saudi? Hope so, otherwise a woman would feel like a prisoner.

        Are you going to tell the Saudi cleric that his comment is stupid too? Thought not.


      • Women Can Now Ride A Bike In Public – With Certain Restrictions
        By Ben Armbruster on April 1, 2013

        A Saudi newspaper reportedly said that the conservative religious country will now allow women to ride a bicycle in public. Well, sort of, the AP reports:

        “The Al-Yawm daily cited an unnamed official from the powerful religious police as saying women will be allowed to ride bikes in parks and recreational areas, but they must accompanied by a male relative and dressed in the full Islamic head-to-toe abaya.”

        The official told the paper that Saudi women may not use the bikes for transportation, but “only for entertainment,” and that they should shun places where young men gather “to avoid harassment.”

        So Saudi women can now ride bikes (progress?), but they can’t do it unaccompanied, must be completely covered and can’t use a bicycle for transportation purposes (baby steps). Women are also not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, despite a series of recent local protest movements seeking to overturn the ban.

        There have been other small steps forward for women’s rights in this deeply conservative and repressive culture. The Kingdom sent a woman to the summer olympics for the first time last year and in 2011, the Saudi King granted women the right to vote and run in municipal elections starting in 2015. King Abdullah also recently appointed 30 women to the previously all-male Shura Council, a formal advisory committee in Saudi Arabia. And another Saudi newspaper reported last week that authorities will license women’s sports clubs for the first time.

        But Saudi Arabia is still by no means a haven for political and human rights. Last year, Princess Basma Bint Saud Bin Abdul Aziz, a Saudi royal living in London, risked severe backlash by calling for reform, particularly of the religious police. “It is such a non-tolerant atmosphere,” she said. “Our religious police has the most dangerous effect on society – the segregation of genders, putting the wrong ideas in the heads of men and women, producing psychological diseases that never existed in our country before, like fanaticism.”

        But in a new piece looking at expanding rights for women in Saudi Arabia, Time Magazine Middle East Bureau Chief Aryn Baker observes that, “From the outside, progress on women’s rights in the kingdom may appear to be mired in tar,” but, she adds, “from the perspective of women inside the country, dizzying changes are afoot.”

        Think Progress Org


      • “Women’s freedom of movement is very limited in Saudi Arabia. They are not supposed to leave their houses or their local neighborhood without the permission of their male guardian, and company of a mahram (close male relative). However, out of necessity most women leave the house alone and often have contact with unrelated men to shop or conduct business.

        Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, although it is often tolerated in rural areas. Saudi Arabia has no written ban on women driving, but Saudi law requires citizens to use a locally issued license while in the country. Such licenses are not issued to women, thus making it effectively illegal for women to drive. Furthermore, most Saudi scholars and religious authorities have declared women driving haram (forbidden). Commonly given reasons for the prohibition on women driving include:

        Driving a car involves uncovering the face.
        Driving a car may lead women to go out of the house more often.
        Driving a car may lead women to have interaction with non-mahram males, for example at traffic accidents.
        Women driving cars may lead to overcrowding the streets and many young men may be deprived of the opportunity to drive.
        Driving would be the first step in an erosion of traditional values, such as gender segregation.

        Women are generally discouraged from using public transport. It is technically forbidden, but unenforced, for women to take taxis or hire private drivers, as it results in khalwa (illegal mixing with a non-mahram man). Women have limited access to bus and train services. Where it is allowed, they must use a separate entrance and sit in a back section reserved for women. But the bus companies with the widest coverage in Riyadh and Jeddah do not allow women at all.

        Critics reject the ban on driving on the grounds that:
        (1) it is not supported by the Quran,
        (2) it causes violation of gender segregation customs, by needlessly forcing women to take taxis with male drivers,
        (3) it is an inordinate financial burden on families, causing the average woman to spend 30% of her income on taxis and
        (4) it impedes the education and employment of women, both of which tend to require commuting.

        In addition, male drivers are a frequent source of complaints of sexual harassment, and the public transport system is widely regarded as unreliable and dangerous.

        King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has said that he wants women to drive when the society is ready for it”



      • See what I mean, Kathleen??

        Monica reckons:- “Women Can Now Ride A Bike In Public..”

        …and I immediately wonder if they can ride a bike in
        private, too. 🙂

        ….and even if they ‘can’ , whether they’re ‘allowed to’.
        …and …….. if the law now says they ‘can’, does that mean they’re able to do so without first learning how?

        …..and…like that 😉

        ps….and I’m not surprised that Mon hasn’t made a comment about the ‘wearing of the pants’ question.


      • Appreciated Bryan.
        Always nice to be told that.

        ….but you’ll have to get in line 🙂


  1. It’s true- my ovaries hurt every time I drive a car- and I haven’t been able to have another child since I had my son 9 years ago and I got my license 7 years ago- there must be a connection- the fact that I am single and not sexually active has nothing to do with it, it must be the driving.


    • Nice one Andra 😉

      But do tell —->> ????? “I am single and not sexually active ……,”
      ….or complaining?


      • I’d never thought of it like that!!! (either as a brag or as a complaint). I’ve chosen to abstain until marriage as becoming a single mum taught me very clearly that waiting until marriage has its merits…so maybe bragging??? I got my license when my son was 2 as it was very difficult relying on public transport so it’s great to find out that driving also works as some sort of contraceptive! Who would have thought?


      • I just want equality. It’s all about equality today. Equal suffering and misery, I say.


      • Only if you let it be, Kate (all about equality)!
        Just reject the imposition: insist upon your previous superior status! 😉
        (and if you think I’m kidding, think again! 😉


  2. “His comments reflect the extent of opposition to women driving among some conservatives in Saudi Arabia.”
    … as would any rational person who’d spent more than five minutes in a Safeways carpark!
    (Saw a sticker in some sheila’s car recently that read:- “If you don’t like the way women drive stay off the bloody footpath!”

    But I must confess I used to enjoy “driving among some conservatives”
    … but then I got a ticket because they were on a zebra-crossing.


  3. Incidentally, is there any reason to think this “CONSERVATIVE Saudi Arabian cleric” is any less divinely-inspired than and of the christian soothsayers?? 😯


    • yes- I think there’s a lot of reasons to think the conservative Saudi Arabian cleric is less divinely-inspired than Christian soothsayers…if one was truly divinely inspired they’d probably have a divine understanding of the human reproductive system and realise that women driving cars does not injure ovaries….but then again, what type of tanks are they driving in Saudi Arabia? Maybe we’re missing something here…


      • Quite right: there are endless possibilities.
        …and on the other hand we know riding motorbikes does ‘inspired’ things for women’s reproductive systems!
        …especially on rough roads 🙂


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