Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
New logic from one of the country's most conservative "scholars."
Women in Saudi Arabia are all but banned from driving, not by an explicit law or religious dictate but by the sticky fact that the country gives driver's licenses only to men (women, though, are at least sometimes allowed to bike!). The logic here? Well it depends on who you ask. But here is one interesting explanation we've never heard before, via a man NBC News identifies as one of Saudi Arabia's "top conservative clerics": Driving, ladies, is bad for your ovaries.
Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan is one of 21 members of the Senior Council of Scholars, and he said this is in an interview published on Friday and picked up by NBC News:
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.
That is why we find those who regularly drive have children with clinical problems of varying degrees.
Now this raises a couple of minor quibbling points: If you do drive "of pure necessity," does that mean your ovaries are okay? Can we get some hyperlinks to this research? And where exactly are all these women with clinically problematic offspring? Perhaps the affliction doesn't strike outside Saudi Arabia?
As NBC News explains, this cleric is in a position to write religious edicts and advise the government in Saudi Arabia (although there is some evidence from WIkileaks cables that the country has been unhappily embarrassed by the guy before). His latest comments come as thousands of women are planning to protest the ban from behind the wheel on Oct. 26.
Top image of a woman in Saudi Arabia defying the ban on driving last year: Fahad Shadeed/Reuters.