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Saudi Arabia - Fatwa on Women's Driving of Automobiles (Shaikh Abdel Aziz Bin Abdallah Bin Baz), 1990

  • Country: Saudi Arabia
  • Law status: Repealed
  • Law Type: Travel

The Fatwa on Women’s Driving of Automobiles (Shaikh Abdel Aziz Bin Abdallah Bin Baz, 1990) prohibits women from driving. Women are also prohibited from obtaining drivers’ licenses.

. . . the issue of women’s driving of automobiles. It is known that this is a source of undeniable vices, inter alia, the legally prohibited “khilwa” [meeting in private between a man and a woman] and abandonment of “hijab” [women’s veil]. This also entails women meeting with men without taking the necessary precautions. It could also lead to committing “haraam” [taboo] acts hence this was forbidden Pure “Shari’a” also prohibits the means that lead to committing taboo acts and considers these acts “haraam” in themselves . . . Thus, the pure “Shari’a” prohibited all the ways leading to vice . . . Women’s driving is one of the means leading to that and this is self-evident.

Note:

While the Saudi Arabian government has claimed that there is no legal provision banning women from driving cars, fatwas, such as this one, have the force of law in Saudi Arabia. In addition, it is illegal for women to be granted a driver’s license.

UPDATE: Women will finally be able to drive in Saudi Arabia! On 26 September 2017, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued an order to lift the ban on women getting drivers licenses and being able to drive, which was announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  In June 2018 the Fatwa was lifted and women were issued driving licenses. Equality Now remains concerned about equal access to driving, due to the difference in costs, and access to driving schools.

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