Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan, one of the 21 members of Saudi Arabia’s senior group of scholars with the authority to write fatwas (religious edicts), has stated women should not drive because they could injure their ovaries and subsequently bear damaged children.
Lohaidan said women should put:
reason ahead of their hearts, emotions and passions… If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards. That is why we find those who regularly drive have children with clinical problems of varying degrees.
A battle over the ban preventing women from driving is being waged inside the kingdom. An Internet campaign has exploded in the past week encouraging women to defy the kingdom’s ban and drive on October 26. On Sunday, the website promoting the protest was blocked inside Saudi Arabia.
Lohaidan’s website lists no scientific background, and he cited no studies as he made his claims. King Abdullah fired him from a top judiciary council in 2009, but as a member of the senior group of scholars, his views are significant because the Saudi royal family is largely dependent on the clerics of the nation for their power.
There is no specific law banning women from driving, but women have been punished with fines and also put on trial for doing so.