In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive. To fight against this prohibition and to denounce their placement under masculine guardianship, many Saudi women began to film themselves walking as a means denounce this act. It is a peaceful rebellion, 2.0, and on foot, which began at the end of March. A young Saudi student, Manahel, began filming on her way to university to denounce the ban on driving for women. Usually, her father takes her by car to school, but he has fallen ill and Manahel has only her legs to walk to school. But the young woman suffers from osteoarthritis in the knee which aggravates her state of health. Hence her reaction, which has now become viral and encouraged by the hashtag # Resistbywalking. Observers of France 24 compiled the comments of the young Saudi women who took part in this movement. Manahel says: “The monthly bus subscription – reserved exclusively for women – costs 600 rials [about 150 euros]. But I cannot afford it because I’m still a student. So I am forced to walk an hour and a half each day to get to class, while driving a car does not exceed 10 minutes. I am very frustrated because I have knee pain. I could move with my father’s car, but I cannot because of this absurd law.“
And for the men of Saudi Arabia, a woman walking alone in the street is considered “inappropriate” and is the object of criticism, even insults. An absurdity that they try to denounce. If some of them are filming with the veil for fear of the religious police, others do it without. This is the case of Mariam al-Hubail, a teacher: “I am also against the fact that we impose the veil on women. I feel I have the right to go to work, to university, without being obliged to wear it. So I filmed myself without the veil because I am against the fact that it is compulsory”.
The Saudi women live daily under the guardianship of men, be it their husband, father or son. This lack of freedom is absurd and it takes courage to dare to take part in this type of open-faced movement. For now, the story does not say whether this event will have positive consequences for the future and the rights of women. But that’s all we want.