Day 157: Manal al Sharif: A Saudi woman who dared to drive.

There’s no law against women driving in Saudi Arabia, yet it’s forbidden. Two years before this talk, Manal al Sharif decided to borrow her brother’s car and go for a drive.
As long as she knew, women in Saudi had complained that nobody stood up to the system. Tired of constantly relying on lifts and a male chaperone, Al- Sharif videoed herself driving. This video received hundreds of thousands of views on the first day on YouTube. On 17th June, she encouraged all the women to drive and a hundred brave women did. She was threatened with death and rape and imprisoned for nine days.
Their system is based on ultra-conservative customs and rituals. When its enshrined in religious beliefs through poor interpretation of Sharia law and women believe their inferiority it becomes worse for them. Al- Sharif talks about the difference between the reception she receives abroad versus at home, where headlines about her are strongly negative and her behaviour is seen as a betrayal of her country. Yet it is because she loves her country that she chooses to campaign. As many before her have said, a country cannot truly be free until all its citizens are free.

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