Aliyah Al-Farid, a Saudi businesswoman and member of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), was fined by police after she drove herself to the hospital to receive treatment for a medical condition. A woman driver? What’s next? A woman doctor?!
In Saudi Arabia, it is not illegal for women to drive on the road, but it is illegal for them to be granted a driver’s license – which pretty much wipes out the former law. As the Quran says, “No woman shall operate a motor vehicle. Ever.”
But Al-Farid claims no one else was available to drive her when she began to experience the medical emergency.
“I told the traffic officers that I had to drive because it was an emergency case,” Al-Farid later told reporters.
“I didn’t do it on purpose and I’m not after fame or media hype. I was very sick and that was it,” she said.
The Saudi police were very understanding and allowed her to proceed to the hospital. But waited for her outside…
When she emerged from treatment, four police cars were waiting to escort her to the local Traffic Department office. While at the station, Al Farid, who has reportedly been caught driving twice before, paid the fine for driving without a license but refused to agree to a police request to never drive again.
The Saudi businesswoman owns a centre caring for people with special needs and on occasion must rush her patients to hospital.
“We can’t leave an epileptic patient convulsing on the ground while waiting for our male driver to come and transport him to hospital.”
“I have to get behind the steering wheel and do it,” she explained.
So… what are Saudi women supposed to do if they are home alone and have a medical emergency? Sit there and die? Well, considering this is the same country where religious police forced schoolgirls back into a burning building because they weren’t wearing the correct Islamic dress, I guess the answer is yes.