No Woman, No Drive

Saudi comedian Hisham Fageeh’s version of the Bob Marley classic No Woman, No Cry, protesting the ban on women driving in the kingdom has become an internet sensation.

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Fageeh’s satirical version of the song, which has  been watched almost 3 million times, includes lines such as “ovaries all safe and well, so you can make lots and lots of babies”.

“I’m an artist and social activist. I don’t really listen to music, but while studying in the US I heard this song by this Jamaican guy that caught my attention. I decided to do my own rendition; with lyrics relevant to my culture,” he states in the beginning of the video.

Whilst no specific law bans women from driving in the country, women are simply not issued licenses. Online activists at first has planned a global “drive-in” on last Saturday, but cancelled the campaign after threats from the government; instead an open-ended campaign was declared. Some 60 women braved and sat behind the wheel according to the activists.

For years, women have been asking the same question: Why a ban when it is legally allowed to drive? And what is the punishment if someone defies this unsaid rule?About 17,000 people signed a petition calling either for women to be allowed to drive or for an explanation of why the prohibition should remain in force.

This is not the first time women have come out to exercise their natural right of driving. In 1990, some women first defied the “no-driving” rule. It is not just about driving. Saudi Arabia also forbids women from travelling abroad, opening a bank account or working without permission from a male relative.

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