Saudi Driving Damages Women's Ovaries, Claims Cleric

Monday, 30 Sep 2013 10:07 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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A Saudi Arabian cleric has provided new reasoning as to why women in the ultra-conservative Arab country shouldn't drive: It will damage their ovaries.

In an interview with Saudi news website as reported by CNN, Sheikh Saleh Al-Loheidan controversially suggested that driving could cause female pelvic problems and even impact a woman's future children.

"If a woman drives a car, it could have a negative physiological impact," Al-Loheidan said Friday. "Medical studies show that it would automatically affect a woman's ovaries and that it pushes the pelvis upward. We find that for women who continuously drive cars, their children are born with varying degrees of clinical problems."

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No law specifically prohibits Saudi women from driving, but religious statutes and societal norms forbid it.

Many saw Al-Loheidan's comments as an attempt to discourage a national campaign that's encouraging women to protest by getting behind the wheel on Oct. 26.

"This is his answer to the campaign, but it is an individual opinion. The clerical establishment is not behind this," Saudi women's rights activist Aziza Yousef told CNN. "He's making a fool of himself. He shouldn't touch this field at all — the medical field is not his field at all."

A Twitter hashtag was soon born — #WomensDrivingAffectsOvariesAndPelvises — mocking Al-Loheidan's remarks.

As of Sunday, more than 12,000 people have logged online to support the Oct. 26 "Women Driving" demonstration at

"There is no justification for the Saudi government to prohibit adult women citizens who are capable of driving cars from doing so," part of the online petition reads.

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Related stories:

It Makes Economic Sense For Women to Drive, Saudi Prince Says

Ikea Deleted Women From Saudi Version of Catalog

New Ban on Abuse in Saudi Arabia Protects Women From Domestic Violence  

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