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 show on the Saudi Rotana Khalijiyya TV.
Following are excerpts:
Saleh Al-Saadoon: Women used to ride camels, so one might ask what prevents them from driving cars. In Saudi Arabia, we have special circumstances. The city of Arar is 150 km away from Al-Jawf. If a woman drives from one city to another and her car breaks down, what will become of her?
Interviewer: Well, women drive in America, in Europe, and in the Arab world…
Saleh Al-Saadoon: They don't care if they are raped on the roadside, but we do…
Interviewer: Hold on, who told you that they don't care about getting raped by the roadside?
Saleh Al-Saadoon: It's no big deal for them beyond the damage to their morale. In our case, however, the problem if of a social and religious nature.
Interviewer: What is a rape if not a blow to the morale of the woman? That goes deeper than the social damage.
Saleh Al-Saadoon: In our case, it affects the family…
Interviewer: What, society and the family are more important than the woman's morale?
Saleh Al-Saadoon: Perhaps morale is part of the problem, but it is not the problem itself. There is also the religious aspect. I will give you two examples…
Interviewer: The other guests appear to be in shock…
Saleh Al-Saadoon: Well, they should listen to me and get used to what society thinks, if they are really so out of touch with it…
Saudi women are driven around by their husbands, their sons, and their brothers. 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 all at the ready for when she gestures with her hand.
Interviewer: 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 chauffer?
Saleh Al-Saadoon: Of course I am. There is a solution, but the government officials and the clerics refuse to hear of it.
Interviewer: What is the solution?
Saleh Al-Saadoon: The solution is to bring in female foreign chauffeurs to drive our wives.
Interviewer begins to giggle
Saleh Al-Saadoon: Why not? Why not? Are you with me on this? There might be some considerable opposition to this, but…
Interviewer: Female foreign chauffeurs? Seriously?
Saleh Al-Saadoon: Yes, to replace the male ones.