On 26th October, women of Saudi Arabia drove on the streets to defy the driving ban. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving. The punishment is 10 lashes.
There is no written ban on women driving. However, women must obtain a locally issued license to drive. These licenses are not issued to women. Therefore, this effectively prevents women from driving
More than 16,000 signatures were obtained on the campaign website to change the law. Later in the day, the website was hacked.
The women to drive movement
The women to drive movement is a campaign started by Saudi Arabian women who are trying to enforce the right to drive motor vehicles on public roads in Saudi Arabia.
The protest began in 1990, when women in Riyadh drove their cars in protest. They were imprisoned for a day, their passports were confiscated and some of them lost their jobs.
In 2007, Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia Al-Uyyouni of the Association for the Protection and Defense of Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia appealed to King Abdullah with a petition of 1,100 signatures. On International Women’s Day, al-Huwaider filmed herself driving and posted the video online. The following week she was arrested after she posted a video of Manal al-Sharif driving.
Several other protests have taken place in Saudi Arabia since then. The movement has garnered support from the international community as well.
Video that went viral
Saudi Arabia based comedian Hisham Fageeh posted a video that went viral over the internet to bring more attention towards the plight of women. The video got over 450,000 views on YouTube. The song titled No Woman, No Drive is his rendition of Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry.
Who knew that you could be fined for feeding a pigeon in Venice or could be arrested and detained for photographing government buildings, palaces and military installations in Saudi Arabia?
These things could seem innocent to several people but could be some of the reasons why people pay hefty fines and are arrested and detained abroad.
“Every year British nationals find themselves on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly, resulting in fines or in some cases arrests or even jail sentences,” says Charles Hay, Director of Consular Services in a statement issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the UK following the FCO British Behaviour Abroad Report 2013.
The FCO assisted 19,244 British nationals in 2012/13.
Some examples of weird laws
||Don’t carry or use drugs. While the Netherlands has a reputation for being tolerant on the use of so-called ‘soft drugs’ this exists only for designated areas. Possession of prohibited substances or buying them can carry a prison sentence
||Feeding the pigeons is against the law
||It is illegal to take some commonly available nasal sprays containing pseudoephedrine into Japan
||It is against the law to wear a bikini, swimming trunks or to go bare-chested away from the beach front area in Barcelona
||Chewing gum on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in Singapore is strictly prohibited
||It is illegal to import more than 200 cigarettes into Thailand
||Large fines and confiscation
||It is an offence to sit on steps and courtyards or to eat and drink in the immediate vicinity of churches and public buildings in Florence
||In Saudi Arabia photographing government buildings, military installations and palaces is prohibited
||Arrest and detention
||It is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing
||It is illegal to take mineral water into Nigeria
||Sunbathing topless is prohibited
||Public observance of religions other than Islam is prohibited for non-Maldivians and visitors
How to avoid such consequences?
One can easily avoid these circumstances by researching travel destinations thoroughly in advance. It is worth keeping in mind that the laws of the land are in force irrespective of the persons nationality.
“Consular staff often find that travelers are unaware that local laws apply to them and many British nationals think of their British passport as a ‘get out of jail free’ card,” adds Charles Hay.