Saudi historian tells us why Saudi women shouldn’t drive, and that women who do don’t care about being raped

February 9, 2015 • 11:30 am

This would be humorous if it weren’t the law in Saudi Arabia—where women aren’t allowed to drive—or if a Ph.D. didn’t go on television and argue seriously that women who drive in other countries “don’t care if they are raped by the roadside.” WHAT?

The details:

During a TV show, Saudi historian Saleh Al-Saadoon said that women should not be allowed to drive on the grounds that they might get raped if their car broke down on the roadside. “[Western women] don’t care if they are raped on the roadside, but we do”, he said on the January 11, 2015 show on the Saudi Rotana Khalijiyya TV.

As you’ll see, the interviewer goes after Al-Sadoon like a dog at a bone, and good for her. (I’m surprised that she’s not veiled, for I thought that was the rule for Saudi women in public). At least Al-Saadoon admits that this is a religious issue, showing that for people like him, and presumably many Saudi men, obeying the presumed dictates of Islam overrides women’s freedom.

And get what his solution is to the interviewer’s suggestion that women might still be raped by the men who drive them around. Al-Saadoon suggests, in all seriouslness, that Saudi women might be driven by foreign female chauffeurs! The man is a fricking genius, for he’s unwittingly coopted the Jewish idea of the shabbos goy, the non-Jew hired to do the work prohibited for Jews on the Sabbath! (The interviewer, peace be upon her, can’t stifle her laughter at this nonsense.)

h/t: Malgorzata

111 thoughts on “Saudi historian tells us why Saudi women shouldn’t drive, and that women who do don’t care about being raped

  1. And now you see why I’ve been looked at with deep hatred by men like this. Come to think of it, the two times it happened, I was driving.

  2. Saudi women might be driven by foreign female chauffeurs

    Because if a foreign female chauffeur is raped on the roadside (what’s with this obsession with rape, anyway?), it just means damage to her morale, but it is not a religious problem.

    These people are really, completely and utterly batshit crazy.

      1. Why should they when, like he said, the western women themselves don’t care?

        Lo, peace be with the interviewer who couldn’t remain serious in face of such nonsense.

      2. They just don’t care what happens to non-muslim [foreign female chauffeurs] perhaps.

        Most of the foreign labourers I met in the UAE were actually Muslim – mostly from dirt-poor parts of Pakistan and/ or Bangladesh.
        When you’re running a theocracy, and you require an honest statement of your religion and sept of religion on your visa/ entry card, it does not make sense to poison your society by importing filthy foreigners from a different religion. That at least seems to be the opinion of the (relatively) liberal emirates of the UAE. I’ve never had the joy of working in Saudi itself to comment on practices there, but I’d be pretty surprised if they encouraged the import of non-Muslims if at all avoidable.
        The fact that my visas and various paperwork to the UAE have clearly marked me as an apostate (atheist) may well be why I’ve never got any work there. Really, is does seem that they genuinely give a shit about these things, and then then use normal human ingenuity to minimise the problems consequent on these policies. It’s like … I dunno, the US TSA and border police being deeply suspicious of suspected terrorists, even if they’ve never been charged or convicted.

        1. The truly weird roles of foreigners in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar are illustrated by their population pyramids: Huge surpluses in the populations of males between 20 and 40. As you say, the foreign “guest workers” who are treated the worst and have the worst jobs are generally Muslims from Bangladesh or Pakistan. Indians are often professionals like doctors, and Westerners are highly paid scientists, engineers, and professors – and businessmen. These are bizarre societies.

          1. As a professional in the oil industry, I choose my words carefully.
            “There will be blood.”
            A lot of it.

      3. They don’t really care about Muslim women, either; only in that a woman who is raped brings shame on the men in the family.

        1. Sometimes bad things happen even when you try to prevent them. There should be no shame in that. By taking the position that it brings shame in all circumstances, they seem to be either implying that it was the woman’s fault or that they could have prevented it and didn’t. I think it’s more likely to be the first implication. In that culture women seem to have been evil incarnate for thousands of years, before Islam, before the Bible. And yet they claim to put them on a pedestal.

          1. In Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali relates being taught, when she was relatively little, how to reach between a man’s legs and grab his testicles and squeeze them if she were attacked. It’s as if attacks are inevitable and it is, as you say, the woman’s (and perhaps even the girl’s) fault if she can’t ward them off.

          2. [In the voice of @JihadistJoe] Isn’lt it good that goats don’t have opposable digits.

    1. In the video he says “in our case [presumably Saudi Muslim] it affects the family.” It means the foreign female chauffeur wont dishonour her family.

      1. But what about the Muslim woman passenger? She won’t be raped because only drivers get raped when the car breaks down?

        Are you really trying to apply logic to this nonsense?

        1. It’s an exercise called “reductio ad absurdam” (or something closely similar), “reducing [the proposition] to an absurdity”. A venerable technique of rhetoric for demonstrating how ridiculous the proposition is.
          If it’s good enough for Dean Swift, it’s good enough for more polite company.

      1. He’s probably one of those men who thinks that a lesbian is just a woman who’s only ever been exposed to those weak, effeminate foreign men who don’t know how to put a woman in her place like he does.

    2. What if some guy is driving and pulls off the side of the road and accosts the Widow Thumb and her Four Daughters?

  3. But having female chauffeurs doesn’t solve the problem of breaking down during a long road trip, there will just be two females in a broken down car. Or are chauffeurs expected to be great mechanics also? And why do the foreign women get a free pass at what ever crazy religious rule is preventing Saudi women from driving?
    He has a moustache and glasses, he shouldn’t be saying such utter bollocks.

    1. Because the foreign women aren’t worth the honour and protection of their misogyny and foreign women are whores.

    2. What makes you think that these mythical foreign female drivers are considered human? They’re disposable units of cheap labour – an attitude all to prevalent in the Gulf States, and I would be pretty surprised if it didn’t extend into the “Holy” Kingdom too.

  4. Women can drive in one place –
    “A stark exception to strict Saudi society, its campus in Thuwal, 90 kilo­metres north of Jeddah, imposes no discrimination on the basis of sex, religion or ethnicity. Unlike in the rest of the country, women and men mingle, and women can also drive. The freedoms on the campus were a condition of the prominent Western scientists who backed KAUST’s development.”

    1. I believe women can also drive inside the Aramco campus in Dhahran.Once past the gates, you don’t feel you are in Saudi Arabia anymore!

  5. he’s unwittingly coopted the Jewish idea of the shabbos goy, the non-Jew hired to do the work prohibited for Jews on the Sabbath!

    He’s also implied that if a foreign female chauffeur gets out of the car to change the tire and gets raped, he doesn’t really care. Its not so much the rape he has a problem with, as it is the status of the woman who gets raped. Classy.

      1. Because her family won’t kill her!

        Her family are only likely to find out about it if she falls pregnant due to the rape, and therefore loses her job, her work permit, and is deported to her home country. Likely without pay and therefore at risk of having to pay back her debts to the people who arranged her with papers, passport, transport costs and other “up front fees”. On deportation (for being unemployed), it is not uncommon for suicide to be the available option to murder.
        Obviously the same applies, doubly so, if she falls pregnant and has the temerity to accuse her boss of raping her.
        You’re making the fundamental mistake of starting from an expectation of Western civilised behaviour. With the gulf States in general you’re better to start from a mental model of plantation owners and slaves. That is less likely to lead you into false assumptions.
        There are reasonable members of those societies. But they’re few and far between, and frequently morph into holding traditional values after a few years of being back in their social norms.
        (Oh, I should add – there are a good number of ex-patriots who like working out there because they feel more comfortable in such a social milieu. I’ve come really close to breaking a beer glass in the face of one such specimen of anatomically modern human in the past, but held my fist until I’d got my hand the pay check cashed. But I was sore tempted.)

    1. Doesn’t even care about the Saudi woman who gets raped, but more the dishonor to her father and brothers, etc. Batshit crazy is right!!

  6. Given the laughter of the interviewer and the observers, I would hazard to say that this Saudi women’s driving policy is going to change soon.

      1. On that subject, some lackey of Prince Charles was on Radio 4 this morning explaining how we in the west really are thinking in the wrong way if we imagine that we can understand Saud mores (in the only country in the world named after a dynasty, I think).

        In more enouraging news he did say that the new King Salman is much less liberal than the recently deceased Abdullah, who was actually a crypto-progressive and wisely and gradually introduced reforms at an appropriate pace. As he explained to the interviewer, Michal Hussain, very few westerners really understand the Islamic mind-set and culture from the inside. As his boss Prince Charles does.

        I never knew it was possible to drop my jaw and smirk at the same time. x

        1. we in the west really are thinking in the wrong way if we imagine that we can understand Saud mores

          Ah, but it was the Brits themselves that came up with the answer to that: when faced with barbarism, understanding isn’t the key issue. I give you Sir Charles Napier, from British occupied India:

          “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks, and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

          Now I’m all for multiculturalism in a lot of ways. But a cultural practice of raping women when they drive should be met with a Napier response.

          1. Thanks for recounting that. Hadn’t heard that one before. I can’t help but agree with Napier.

          2. Ah, the good old “the British stamped out barbarism (and Sati) from the Indian subcontinent” trope.

            Except that laws against Sati (which had been extremely rare for about five centuries at that point) had already been promulgated in India at least as far back as the reign of Akbar, in the mid 16th century, a full century and half before Scotland legally executed its last witch through “death by fire” in a tar barrell.

            Perhaps Napier should have been more concerned about the customs of his “own” people. “Your” customs and “our” customs indeed!

            It is also rather ironic that a representative of the supremely brutal and yes, “barbaric” British empire, a representative who openly advocated brutality against his enemies is being presented as an exemplar of how to deal with “barbarism”. It is quite surprising what all people would willingly approve of if only it would allow them to feel superior to foreign “barbarians”.

          3. The question is, were those laws against Sati universal, and universally observed, or were there pockets of resistance (a bit like Alabama) where the ‘old customs’ hung on?

            I don’t think anyone here was suggesting that British rule was invariably good. And Napier’s quote appears specific to one circumstance and limited to two customs, not a universal comparison.

          4. Akbar ruled (more accurately, had influence over) roughly as big a swath of India as the British. Further, Sati had already been a freak custom already by the time the British came on the scene. (Even the original source of that odious Napier quote , written by as neutral a source as his brother, makes that clear), and the laws they did pass against it were passed at the prodding of Indian reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy. There was no question of “your” customs vs “our” customs here.

            I have seen the “British civilized India” apologia trotted out in too many forms, most often in reference to Sati, and frankly, have as little patience with it as I would have with holocaust denial. It is not just that the British rule was not “invariably good”; the actions of several British administrators in India were downright brutal; and almost all of these murderers did not just remain unpunished, they were even hailed as “heroes” by a large chunk of the population back home.

            If you would think it inappropriate to quote Chengiz Khan (or, for that matter, Adolf Hitler) on how to deal with “barbarism”, you should perhaps consider applying the same reservations to these “heroes” of the British Empire.

  7. Start out with a trumped up rule and then justify it no matter what. Theology 101. “All people are sinners” is another doozy. “Everyone knows [insert favorite god here] exists but they won’t admit it” is always good for some laughs too.

  8. You know, if rape is such a problem in Saudi Arabia then maybe the solution might involve a better, stronger police force. Or better education for the men. Or both.

    Of course rape is not really considered a problem in Saudi Arabia. The victims are only getting what they deserve for being available. Women driving cars is considered a problem in Saudi Arabia. That is why rape IS a problem in Saudi Arabia.

    As well as elsewhere.

    The more people who laugh at this wickedness, the more it will be seen for the foolishness it is: religious hogwash entangled in an honor culture mentality.

    Don’t women know that when they are raped it dishonors the family?? Jeez, they think it’s all about them.

    1. if rape is such a problem in Saudi Arabia then maybe the solution might involve a better, stronger police force

      Who do you think is stopping to rape a woman when they see a car stopped on the side of the road?

  9. I don’t believe it is illegal for women to drive, but the religious police use any pretext as an excuse to arrest them.

    “Although no law exists in Saudi Arabia forbidding women to drive, religious edicts to keep women from driving have resulted in arrests for decades. Religious conservatives justify the ban by asserting that it is improper for women to travel, no matter how short the journey, without being accompanied by a man, but one Saudi cleric went so far as to say that driving is bad for women’s ovaries.”

    I hope the interviewer doesn’t meet with an accident, or find herself arrested on some trumped up charge for laughing at this joker.

  10. Just a guess but it may be that more males are raped over there than females. You don’t hear about it because it’s not allowed. Very much like rape in the U.S. military.

    1. My understanding is that homosexuality wasn’t stigmatized is Arabic society prior to Islam, so the prohibition on it is half-hearted. I think the Koran makes references to “pretty boys” as being one of the benefits of heaven.

      1. I don’t know if this is the case for Arabic society specifically, past or present, but in some societies where homosexual sex is frowned upon it is frowned upon less so when between a young man / boy and an adult man compared to when between two adult men. Pretty disgusting. Sex between two men? Bad!! Rape of woman, girls or boys? No biggie.

      2. God! How beautiful, this young
        Cucumber seller, and a face to make
        The sun itself blush at noontime.
        The day he agreed to a tender meeting
        I was overwhelmed.
        Ah, how I savored
        That mouthful of cucumber.

        Muhammad al-Nawaji bin Hasan (14th century)

        1. Years ago, the National Lampoon quoted an “old Arab proverb”:

          For children, a woman;
          For pleasure, a boy;
          For sheer extasy, a melon!

          No mention of camels.

          1. The variant I heard in the the Empty Quarter, as a “tartan Arab” was :

            A boy for pleasure
            A woman for children.
            Or a goat for warmth.

            Richard Burton (that one, not that one) had lots of things to say about pederasty and homosexuality in his proposed “Sotadic Zone“. Whether he was for or against it, I’d have to spend more time reading on the subject, which I’m not particularly inclined to do.

          2. “Or a goat for warmth.”

            That is not entirely ridiculous. I once slept with a dog for four nights. It suited the dog and it suited me. I was that cold I didn’t have the heart to push him away.

            (“Slept with” is NOT a euphemism for ‘had sex with’, you dirty-minded lot 😉 Damn people and their euphemisms, it makes a straight statement of fact sound suggestive in all sorts of unintended ways)

          3. I dread to think how many bed bugs and eyelash-lice I’ve slept with over the years.
            Mammals (well, some mammals) are a much better fit.
            [retires to the tune of the rubguy club (not a mispelling!) singing “in the ear of a dear boys … up the hole of a mole …]
            Let us draw discrete blanket over the rest of this conversation. Or, you get the video camera and …

  11. Thanks for this . It really made my day!
    Mike Lyons

    Professor Mike Lyons
    School of Chemistry & CRANN
    Trinity College Dublin

  12. That guy is some piece of work! I could hardly believe my ears! What a warped, twisted mind set he lives in. All credit to the interviewer, we could do with a few like her on this side of the pond. Maybe laughter and derision will eventually chase out these medieval ideas.

  13. This man is clearly living in La-la Land, even by Saudi standards. There’s so much wrong with his logic, I don’t know where to start, but it has mostly been covered above. On top of that is the picture he paints of Saudi men waiting around for women to snap their fingers and commanding to be driven somewhere. Well, I’m sure that’s just SO realistic!

    And is he acknowledging that being covered by a sack doesn’t prevent rape? How very progressive of him!

    There’s a strong move by men as well as women to extend driving rights. It’s the Wahabbi clerics who are shutting it down – the same men who’ve been preventing the king’s reforms and funding terrorists and the madrassas that produce more men with a fundamentalist mindset. The same men who consider rape a weapon of war.

    1. On top of that is the picture he paints of Saudi men waiting around for women to snap their fingers and commanding to be driven somewhere. Well, I’m sure that’s just SO realistic!

      She Who Must Be Obeyed (now there’s a phrase that confuses the pants off many Arabs) got a DVD from [rental company] a couple of weeks ago, name of Wadjda. Somehow, I think the script-writer/ director would be equally amused. Moderately amusing film.

      And is he acknowledging that being covered by a sack doesn’t prevent rape? How very progressive of him!

      Conversation at the bar in an Abu Dhabi hotel some years ago, in sight of the reception desk :

      [Me] “Some bloke checking in with about half a dozen bags of wives.”
      [Local] “Emir Fred The Unmemorable. But they aren’t his wives.”
      [Me] “What, daughters? Worth chasing if they come down here?”
      [Local] “Wrong gender for you. Probably.”
      Those bags cover up a LOT of things other than bodies and identities.

      1. “She Who Must Be Obeyed” – can anybody remind me what British sitcom that comes from? Someone called his wife that.

        Then there was ” ‘er indoors ” from ‘Minder’.

        As for the convo, at least they were people – animal sex is the most Googled term in a lot of countries that bag up their women, although Saudi Arabia isn’t in the top three:

        1. Rumpole – of the Bailey.
          Actually, Rumpole of “Any Town” – “Baillie”, “Bailey”, and “Baille” being middle english corruptions of the outer courtyard of a castle, where local judicial power would be enacted.

        2. The term “she-who-must-be-obeyed” dates back substantially before television. There was an 1887 novel called She: A History of Adventure that featured “She-who-must-be-obeyed” as the main antagonist- an immortal queen from a long destroyed advanced civilization who had mind control powers.

          1. I have no idea what the original source of the phrase is, that’s just the oldest instance of its use that I’m aware of.

  14. This guy thinks he can get away with explanations that would not fool a young child. I think ridicule is the absolute appropriate response to his ridiculous reasoning.

    1. Pretty typical of someone who has always been able to depend on the authority granted them by something that takes no effort to earn, in this case a penis. He has had no need to practice rational thought.

  15. Are women alone actually more likely to be raped there? I have wondered about the dynamics in a culture that permits polygamy. It’s mathematically impossible to have an equitable society if men can marry up to 4 women but women can marry only one man. That makes unattached women a scarce commodity and frustrated men excess societal baggage. Look at India – the numbers are skewed due to the skewed birth rate, and women do get raped in public.

    1. It’s mathematically impossible to have an equitable society if men can marry up to 4 women but women can marry only one man.

      What makes you think that an equitable society is an aim that is desired by the people in charge of an absolute (or, for the Gulf States, near-absolute) monarchy?
      Try suggesting that in some of the appropriate states and you’d be greeted with either howls of derisive laughter, an uncomfortable silence, or a long week in detention before your deportation. If you’re lucky.

      1. It’s impossible to keep up the idea of men being superior when most men will be superfluous. That’s got to mess with some male minds.

        1. It doesn’t matter if some men’s minds are messed with. The only people who matter are the ones at the top of the pile – who get multiple wives (goats and little boys galore too, if that’s their taste).
          Don’t make the mistake of confusing these countries and societies with popular democracies. They’re not now, and TTBOMK none of their ruling elites have any intention of allowing that to happen. Things got a bit wobbly in the “Arab Spring”, but liberal application of tear gas and secret police (when western journalists were kept away) seems to have lead them away from those dangers.
          If I were a cynic, I’d suspect that the current ISIS (ISIL) crisis is a ploy to deflect western attention from the internal suppression. Which might actually make … there’s a big soccer-ball tournament in Qatar or Bahrain in the near future, isn’t there? Whatever that tournament is, the protest suppression might make the tournament, if not the kicking-around-of-pigs-bladders.

    2. Look at India – the numbers are skewed due to the skewed birth rate, and women do get raped in public.

      For what it is worth, the number of rapes per year (normalized by population) in Delhi — which is widely considered to be most unsafe Indian city for women — is somewhat lower than in England and Wales combined. The linked Guardian article also points out that the conviction rates for rapes are somewhat higher in India than in the US.

  16. Is it really not an option that Muslim men might behave decently to women – for instance to not rape a woman just because she is alone? I don’t believe I have ever even heard it suggested.

  17. This is even better: A Muslim cleric defends Mohammed for not having sex with a girl he married at age 6 until she was 9

    1. In the United States, the age of consent and the marriageable age was around 12 through the end of the 19th century. There is an 18th century record from Virginia recording the marriage of a 12-year-old widow, and in present-day Texas, a girl as young as 14 can get married without her parents’ permission if she is already widowed or divorced. The laws began to change between 1890 and the 1920s, fueled by the temperance and other anti-vice movements. The New York Times reported as late as 1895 that the age of consent in Delaware was nine (today, Delaware has the broadest “close in age” exemption to consent laws).

      1. Of course, the legislators determining those ages of consent must have all been men, as well.

        US women couldn’t vote till 1919. They couldn’t go to most of the Ivy League colleges till the 1970’s.

        1. Pierre Berton told the story of Canada’s earlier Governor (before Canada was Canada) married a very young girl, with the agreement that he would wait until she was old enough to menses.
          He didn’t wait and raped her, and she moved back to England.

          I believe it was in one of his books about the US/Canada war. (but I’m not positive)
          1980 The Invasion of Canada: 1812–1813
          1981 Flames Across the Border: 1813–1814

          1. It’s chilling to think of how recently blatant child abuse was not considered as such.

            What an appalling story.

        2. Yes, but women were exerting a certain amount of political pressure behind the scenes (the Lysistrata strategy, perhaps?) – the temperance movements of the late 1800’s (which were closely allied – if not congruent with – the women’s suffrage groups) were largely female, and they managed to get prohibition ratified in 1919, before they got the vote (except in Wyoming, Utah and Washington, where women could already vote). There was also pressure to raise the ages of both consent and marriage; some laws were enacted before the 1920s, but most of them did not get passed until after ratification of the 19th in August of 1920.

          1. Not sure what your “but” is about, as I certainly agree with you. If you mean that such pressure isn’t present in the mid-east, I’ve read that in fact it is. It just takes much bravery and often secrecy and sacrifice there.

  18. What happens to single women and widows with no male family members or women whose men don’t like them when they want to travel?

  19. ‘foreign female chauffeurs’. The guy obviously hasn’t thought this through. The wet dream of every rapist worth his salt – _two_ women. 🙁

  20. What is to hinder rapists at the roadside from raping both the foreign female driver AND the female passenger?

  21. A slight other good thing beyond the ability to laugh at such a barbarian is that it illustrates that people feel the need to explain and justify crazines, thus showing a minimum of rationality. Of course, he digs himself into even more of an intellectual hole by doing so, but …

  22. Why, is there a “rape culture,” in Saudi Arabia? Why don’t they teach their men that this is wrong? Are men there so backward that they can’t control their lower halves? In America if your car brakes down and a man stop to help you, it is extremely unlikely that something like (rape) would occur under those circumstances. We have laws here that hold a men accountable for his own actions,and not the (woman) victim of such a heinous crimes. Many times I have been helped by strangers when I have experienced car problems. Thank God that most parents over here teach their young men to be gentlemen and not sex perverts.

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