A Saudi historian recently defended his country’s prohibition against female drivers by saying that women who drove “don’t care if they are raped on the roadside.”
During an interview on the Saudi news show Rotana Khalijiyya in January, historian Saleh Al-Saadoon explained that there was a difference between riding camels and driving cars.
“Women used to ride camels, so one might ask what prevents them from driving cars,” Al-Saadoon told the host, according to a translation provided by The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
Al-Saadoon said that there was a “special circumstance” in Saudi Arabia that put women at risk while driving between cities that were far apart.
“If a woman drives from one city to another and her car breaks down, what will become of her?” he asked.
“Well, women drive in America, in Europe, and in the Arab world,” the host noted.
“They don’t care if they are raped on the roadside, but we do,” Al-Saadoon insisted.
“Hold on,” the host interrupted. “Who told you they don’t care about getting raped on the roadside?”
“It’s not a big deal for them beyond the damage to their morale,” Al-Saadoon opined. “In our case, however, the problem is of a social and religious nature.”
“What is rape if not a blow to the morale of a woman?” the host pressed. “That goes deeper than the social damage.”
“But in our case it affects the family,” Al-Saadoon said.
However, the Rotana Khalijiyya host refused to accept that answer.
“What, society and the family are more important that the woman’s morale?” she shot back.
Al-Saadoon argued that morale was only “part of the problem.”
“Saudi women are driven around by their husbands, sons and brothers,” he said. “Everybody is at their service. They are like queens. A queen without a chauffeur has the honor of being driven around by her husband, brother, son and nephews. They are at the ready when she gestures with her hands.”
“You are afraid that a woman might be raped by the roadside by soldiers, but you are not afraid that she might be raped by her chauffeur?” the host pointed out.
“Of course, I am,” the historian remarked. “There is a solution but the government officials and clerics refuse to hear of it. The solution is to bring female foreign chauffeurs to drive our wives.”
At this point, the host was forced to place her hand over her mouth to contain her laughter.
“Why not?” Al-Saadoon wondered. “Are you with me on this? There might be some considerable opposition to this, but…”
“Female foreign chauffeurs? Seriously?” the host said, finally losing her composure.
Watch the video below, originally broadcast on Jan. 11, 2015. It was uploaded to YouTube by MEMRI on Jan. 31, 2015.