Sexist double standards continue to plague Saudi Arabia even as thousands of women are signing up for driving lessons for the first time in the history of their country.
In September 2017, Saudi King Salman put an end to a notorious ultraconservative tradition, which barred women from taking the wheel. It was long criticized by human rights activists all over the world as a way to repress women at the hands of a staunchly patriarchal monarchy.
The new order will be implemented by June this year.
Now that Saudi women are free to drive, they have to register for lessons first — and they have been doing that, in droves, apparently. In fact, hundreds have also signed up for becoming drivers for ride-hailing apps such as Careem.
However, some women have complained they are being overcharged.
Saudi Gazette reported learners who have had been introduced to basic rules of driving are supposed to get 30 hours of training. Those who want to obtain a license and have had absolutely no training at all are supposed to train between 90-120 hours.
Meanwhile, ELLE.com found the average price of a lesson per hour costs 60-75 riyals, which amounts to somewhere around $1800 for women who are required to take lessons between 90-120 hours. For men, the magazine notes, "it costs a little more than $100."
So, in order to avoid the extortionately high prices, some women decided to teach lessons to each other for free in what has turned into a full-blown social media campaign under the hashtag #??????_???? (#iam_ready_to_train_you)
Despite the freedom to drive cars, Saudi women are still forced to comply with the male guardianship system, according to which women cannot go anywhere without a male guardian's approval.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo